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  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533581
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Amazon today shared plans to roll out Doorbell Concierge, a way for AI assistant Alexa to answer your front door and speak with visitors through Ring video doorbells. Concierge will begin to roll out for Ring Video Doorbell Elite users starting next year, Amazon VP David Limp said onstage in a presentation at company headquarters in Seattle.

    The concierge uses Alexa Conversations tech to take messages for a homeowner, ask the best way to contact a visitor, or even tell a delivery person where to leave a package.

    Amazon also rolled out the Ring Retrofit Alarm Kit, a home security accessory; the Ring Stick Up Cam, a home security camera for $99; and Ring Indoor Cam for $59 starting today.

    Also introduced today for home security: Alexa Guard for tracking when a person is detected in your home when you’ve told Alexa you’re not there.

    As part of its initiative to address privacy concerns, Ring also got Home Mode today so video cameras stop recording once you’ve arrived home.

    Many new devices made their debut today, including the Echo Studio smart speaker with 3D sound, a new generation of Echo speakers, Echo Buds, and a range of new features. A number of first-party devices include Amazon Smart Oven, Echo Glow light, Eero WiFi router, and Echo Flex, which spreads an array of microphones in your home for communicating with Alexa.

    At the same event last year, Amazon introduced roughly a dozen new devices, including a new smart plug as well as AmazonBasics microwave and wall clock, each of which can be controlled with Alexa.

    The continued marriage of Alexa with AmazonBasic is Amazon’s attempt to yoke its ecommerce marketplace and Echo’s presence in tens of millions of homes to sell more smart home devices.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533546
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Amazon today unveiled the Echo Studio, a smart speaker that works with AI assistant Alexa that includes 3D Dolby Atmos to optimize sound based on room metrics. The Echo Studio includes 3 mid-range speakers — left, right, and top — with directional tweeter and a 5-inch subwoofer for bass and bigger sound. Users can also stream sound from Amazon Fire video content to Echo Studio speakers.

    The Echo Studio is available for preorder today and costs $199. Also introduced today: an Echo Dot with a clock, a new line of Echo speakers, and Echo Show 8. The news was announced today at an event at Amazon headquarters in Seattle.

    The Echo Studio, announced in an invite-only event in Seattle at Amazon headquarters today, follows the introduction of Echo Amp and Echo Sub to enhance existing Echo speakers one year ago.

    Echo Studio will give Amazon a device to compete with Google Home Max and a range of flexible smart speakers introduced this year from high-end audio companies like Bose and Sonos that can speak with either Alexa or Google Assistant. Unlike those more flexible devices, Echo Studio will speak exclusively with Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.

    On Tuesday, Amazon and a group of dozens of other companies, including Salesforce, Bose, Sonos, and Microsoft, created the Voice Interoperability Initiative for a multi-assistant world.

    At the same event last year, Amazon introduced new Echo Dot and Echo Plus smart speakers and a second-generation Echo Show smart display.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533618
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Starting today, Alexa Privacy Hub will allow users of the AI assistant to opt-in to have their voice recordings deleted on a 3-month or 18-month basis.

    New voice commands are also coming soon, like “Alexa, tell me what you heard” to review recordings and “Alexa, why did you do that?” to get an explanation for an action the AI assistant took.

    The news was announced today in a presentation at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. Amazon VP of devices David Limp began the hardware event by highlighting ways Amazon is taking to satisfy people’s privacy concerns, including Home Mode, a feature coming to Ring security and home doorbell devices in November to automatically switch off cameras when you come home.

    Today’s event comes just days after Google shared plans to make human review of Google Assistant voice recordings require opt-in by users.

    With the release of the original Echo in 2015, Amazon and Alexa created the smart speaker category. Since then Amazon has continued to be the most popular smart speaker in the U.S. and one of Amazon’s best-selling products.

    Alexa may also be the AI assistant best known for privacy violations.

    In May 2018, a Portland woman reported that Alexa recorded a conversation between her and her husband, then sent it to one of his employees, while in December 2018 a German Alexa user said they were given access to voice recordings of 1,000 Alexa users.

    Then this spring, Bloomberg reported and Amazon confirmed that some recordings obtained after use of the “Alexa” wake word were reviewed by human third-party contractors for annotation or transcription.

    These incidents drew multiple inquiries from members of Congress, while state lawmakers in California and Illinois have considered requiring assistant makers to receive consent before collecting voice recordings.

    A PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis and survey found that privacy concerns could hinder adoption of AI assistants, while this spring Microsoft found that more than 40% of digital assistants users are concerned with privacy, trust, and passive listening.

    In response to privacy concerns, earlier this year Amazon introduced an option for users to make human review of voice recordings last month and an “Alexa, delete what I said today” voice command.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533512
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    A group of about 80 Google contractors that work alongside Google employees in Pittsburgh voted to unionize today.

    The group of employees at the company HCL Technologies will organize under the name Pittsburgh Association of Tech Professionals (PATP), alongside the United Steelworkers, for collective negotiation of wages and working conditions. The PATP will advocate for collective bargaining in Pittsburgh and southwest Pennsylvania.

    “We deserve more respect, dignity and democracy in our relationship with our employer,” HCL worker Joshua Borden said in a United Steelworkers statement. “We fought for a seat at the table, and today we won. We look forward to bargaining a contract that reflects our important contributions to HCL’s continuing success.”

    In response to the news, a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat: “We work with lots of partners, many of which have unionized workforces, and many of which don’t. As with all our partners, whether HCL’s employees unionize or not is between them and their employer. We’ll continue to partner with HCL.”

    The union will be formed as the result of 49 votes in favor, 24 votes against union format, and 1 objection, a USW spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

    United Steelworkers criticized HCL earlier this month for forcing employees to attend mandatory anti-union meetings and to speak with a management consultant ahead of the vote.

    In other tech worker news, last month California governor Gavin Newsom signed AB5 into law, a bill that requires gig economy companies like Uber and Postmates to consider more of their workers employees instead of independent contractors.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533339
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Tomorrow, Amazon’s Devices team will hold what’s become an annual event in Seattle. It’s typically the biggest day of the year for AI-powered devices that work with Alexa made by Amazon, and though it’s tough to say for certain exactly what will be announced, given news leaks and the sort of announcements Amazon made in years past, we’ve got a few ideas of what might go down at Amazon headquarters. So here’s a quick rundown of what Amazon may announce at its big hardware event.

    Follow VentureBeat for breaking news and analysis for the invite-only event that begins around 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

    Home robot

    It’s been rumored for over a year that Amazon’s Lab126 is working on a home robot.

    Given the fact that anonymous sources told Bloomberg Amazon intended to release the robot as early as 2019 and we’re on the verge of the holiday season, now would be the time.

    To make such a device more than an Echo speaker on wheels, a home robot will need to deliver value like enact home security, do chores, receive Amazon package deliveries, or enable professional in-home services like the Amazon Key program. Imagine a home robot that can keep an eye on things when a plumber is fixing things or Amazon is delivering a couch.

    Echo speakers

    The introduction of new smart speakers is how this annual event got started in the first place, so new speakers seem the most likely news on the way tomorrow.

    Last year, for example, Amazon introduced its third-generation Echo Dot, still one of the best smart speakers in the world, alongside the improved 10-inch second generation Echo Show.

    A speaker with subwoofer to deliver more bass and volume than current offerings is reportedly in the mix. Such a speaker would help Amazon continue to compete with higher-end speaker makers. Bose and Sonos this year have both introduced their own sound bars and speakers that allow users to interact with either Google Assistant or Alexa.

    The introduction of more devices for enhancing sound from existing Echo speakers like the Echo Sub or Echo Amp seems unlikely, however.

    Earbuds

    Amazon reportedly plans to introduce a pair of earbuds Wednesday, a device that would finally give Amazon an offering to compete with Apple AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds.

    The Alexa wearables SDK has allowed device makers to incorporate the AI assistant into earbuds, so that’s not altogether new, but the Amazon earbuds, reportedly codenamed Puget, will reportedly double as a fitness tracker.

    Again, earbuds for tracking heart rate and steps are available today, but what could be interesting is if Alexa works as a sort of AI assistant workout partner. Sony and a few startups have worked on the idea of an AI assistant that talks you through workouts. With access to your workout data, the assistant could help people move toward long-term goals like good cardiovascular health, getting in shape to have a baby, or training to run a half marathon.

    Just as Alexa now changes her voice when reading news reports, don’t be surprised if such a device uses a more expressive voice when acting as your workout partner.

    New Alexa features

    At last year’s event, Amazon showcased Alexa Follow Up, a way to interact with Alexa without the need to repeat the “Alexa” wake word, and Alexa Guard, which alerts users when a speaker hears the sound of glass breaking or a security alarm.

    Don’t be surprised if among new features that get introduced is a new or enhanced way to improve privacy protections. Events like human review of Alexa voice recordings and numerous episodes with Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera have inflamed consumer privacy concerns this year. Toward this end, earlier this year Amazon began to allow users to disable human review of voice recordings and delete recordings with a voice command.

    High-profile features in the works this year from Amazon’s Alexa AI team include emotion detection and Alexa Conversations, a way to weave together experiences between multiple Alexa skills so you could, for example, reduce the number of steps necessary to plan a night out to less than a dozen exchanges instead of 40. Amazon chief scientist Rohit Prasad first introduced Conversations earlier this year at Amazon’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas.

    On Monday, Amazon launched Show and Tell for Echo Show devices to identify household goods for low vision and blind people. This appears to be one of the first integrations of object detection for Amazon smart displays.

    Then on Tuesday, Amazon and companies like Microsoft and Salesforce launched the Voice Interoperability Initiative to bring together multiple AI assistants on devices.

    Fire TV

    We are on the verge of the launch of Disney+, a streaming service expected to shake up the streaming video industry now dominated by players like Netflix and Amazon.

    Amazon last year showcased Fire TV Recast for DVR and streaming video of local television, and so new major offerings from Fire TV or expanded options with Fire TV Recast could be on the menu for Wednesday.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2532701
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Microsoft is rolling out two new software solutions today to help brick-and-mortar retailers track customers and improve service. Dynamics 365 Connected Store will utilize a combination of computer vision, cameras, and IoT sensors to track customers inside stores and personalize recommendations based on their browsing and buying behavioral data.

    Events detected by Connected Store will trigger web app notifications or email alerts for in-store staff with predictions to improve sales and store efficiency.

    Connected Store can do things like sense a need for more staff at checkout counters, identify issues with store equipment, and surface long-term trends for managers.

    [caption id="attachment-2532702" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce[/caption]

    Also new is Dynamics 365 Commerce, software that pulls insights from businesses that have ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail operations. Dynamics 365 Commerce will also use call center and back office data to power customer personalization.

    A series of upgrades aimed at helping marketers and increasing customer satisfaction was also introduced today. This includes the expansion of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to cover B2B use cases. Made generally available this spring for B2C use cases, Customer Insights draws on Azure Machine Learning and Azure Cognitive Services. It can now equip businesses with AI-powered tools to evaluate customers, draw insights from leads, and understand connections between customers and buying groups.

    [caption id="attachment-2532709" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights[/caption]

    Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service now calculates the amount of time a company saves using a conversational AI agent versus a human customer service agent. This metric will be available on a new enterprise bot dashboard, which will include a customer satisfaction score and a list of the topics used to arrive at the score.

    Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management will connect signals from IoT sensors with business transaction data to do things like predict the need for maintenance or replacement of equipment, while a fraud protection tool for ecommerce merchants is due out later this year.

    A year ago, Microsoft Dynamics 365 introduced a series of solutions for the workplace — including enterprise Cortana skills and Microsoft’s first HoloLens-powered augmented reality experiences for the workplace.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2532688
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Google Assistant no longer stores recordings of users’ voices by default, the company announced today. VentureBeat has reached out to Google for details about when its policy on storing voice recordings was actually changed.

    Now people who interact with Google Assistant will have to opt in when setting up their Google Assistant if they want to have their voice recorded or reviewed by humans through the new Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) program. This data can be used to improve Google Assistant’s conversational AI or Google’s ability to recognize a person’s voice. Existing Voice Match users will be prompted to reconfirm that they want Google to store their recordings.

    Google Assistant users will also soon be given the option to reduce the sensitivity of the AI assistant’s response to the “Hey Google” command.

    The series of changes was introduced after Google paused human review of recordings this summer.

    “It’s clear that we fell short of our high standards in making it easy for you to understand how your data is used, and we apologize,” the company said in a blog post.

    After hearing a wake word, AI assistants like Cortana, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant use voice recordings to improve conversational AI systems trained with labeled and unlabeled data. When the year began, neither the media nor the public knew that humans were listening to interactions recorded by AI assistants, but the practice has come to light in recent months, inflaming fear that smart speakers can be used to eavesdrop on individuals in the privacy of their homes or offices.

    The truth became clear this spring, when Bloomberg reported and Amazon confirmed that human contractors in various parts of the world listen to voice recordings after hearing the “Alexa” wake word or similar sounds.

    Then in July a third-party contractor leaked Google Assistant voice recordings for users in the Netherlands. A day later, Google verified that humans review some recordings, less than 1%, the company said shortly after the news broke. We learned that Siri’s recordings are also reviewed by humans, and Cortana’s as well.

    In response, both Apple and Google pledged to halt human reviews, and Amazon allowed users to disable human voice recording reviews.

    While introducing Portal TV and two other new devices last week, Facebook’s Portal team acknowledged that it collects user voice recordings.

    Lawmakers in states like California and Illinois have this year considered legislation requiring the makers of AI assistants to gain permission from users before recording their voice data.

    Read this VentureBeat article for instructions on how to limit or get rid of voice recordings from the makers of popular AI assistants like Alexa, Bixby, and Google Assistant.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531979
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    A collaborative group that includes Salesforce, Deloitte, the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the United Kingdom Office of AI today introduced guidelines for government officials procuring artificial intelligence systems.

    The WEF is calling the guidelines the first for any national government worldwide.

    In the works for about 10 months, the guidelines were brought together by the WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its AI and ML team. The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution hosts fellows from nations around the world to focus on major initiatives.

    Governments the world over are increasingly using AI to do things like predict the needs of citizens; help with health care screening; or augment criminal justice with features like predictive policing, tracking suspects with facial recognition, and determining whether people deserve pretrial bail hearings.

    The guidelines provide governments with a definition of artificial intelligence and 10 recommendations laid out roughly in order of importance. The aim is to ensure responsible use of AI by the public sector, and the guidelines cover areas like the need to define public benefit while assessing risks.

    The guidelines also urge governments to avoid writing proposal requests that stress exact needs. Instead, governments should define a problem and then allow room for iteration to find the best AI solution. Government officials are urged to ensure their procurement is in line with a national AI strategy — if their country has one in place — and to aim for interoperability between AI systems and open licensing to avoid vendor lock-in.

    The guidelines also implore government officials to use AI systems that can deliver explainability in order to provide explanations of how a model came to a conclusion.

    “Governments do not have the latitude of using the inscrutable ‘black box’ algorithms that increasingly characterize AI deployed by industry. Without clear guidance on how to ensure accountability, transparency, and explainability, governments may fail in their responsibility to meet public expectations of both expert and democratic oversight of algorithmic decision-making and may inadvertently create new risks or harms,” the document reads.

    The government procurement guidelines were first reported by VentureBeat this spring following a conversation with Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution director Kay Firth-Butterfield about how AI can grow without stifling innovation. Other fellows include a New Zealand government official now working to reimagine the role of government regulators in the age of AI.

    The WEF has shown a deep interest in AI this year. In May, it launched a Global AI Council that draws on tech luminaries like Microsoft president Brad Smith, Sinnovation Ventures founder Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, and individuals from Element AI, IBM, Future of Life Institute, and government ministers from a number of countries, including the United Kingdom.

    In July, WEF announced its list of more than 50 tech pioneers, at least 20 of which use machine learning.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531770
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Autonomous construction equipment company Built Robotics today closed a $33 million funding round to expand its operations to more use cases.

    The Built Robotics autonomous system is able to operate on bulldozers, excavators, and skid steers and is currently being used in a number of clean energy projects in remote areas devoid of human construction workers in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and other parts of the Midwestern United States.

    Built Robotics vehicles are fully autonomous and require no humans in the loop, CEO Noah Ready-Campbell told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

    The funding will be used to expand Built Robotics’ AI systems into more use cases, like infrastructure, highways, and road projects, as well as energy sector projects like wind turbines and solar farms. The funding will also be used to hire engineers and fit more heavy machinery with automated systems. Built Robotics wants to make it possible for construction projects to add automation to vehicles or equipment in construction zones with a simple kit.

    Due to regulations and other factors, Ready-Campbell is convinced construction will be automated long before autonomous vehicles are on public roads.

    “I think the thing that’s most exciting to me about autonomous construction equipment is that it’s here and actually deployed on real job sites today with real revenue coming in, real customers, and real projects that are being constructed using our robots, and that’s different from the self-driving car space,” he said. “Because we’re in a somewhat more constrained environment, we’re actually able to move faster, and I think you’re going to see widespread autonomy within the construction industry before you will in the transportation industry, as a result.”

    Construction startups have been especially popular this week: On Tuesday, Fieldwire raised $33.5 million to digitize construction sites, and on Wednesday Indus.ai raised $8 million for its computer vision that helps managers maintain project progress and safety compliance. Last month, Open Space raised $14 million for its construction computer vision solution.

    Like those solutions, Built Robotics says its AI can help keep construction projects on track and avoid delay costs by being able to operate overnight and well beyond a typical eight-hour shift while collecting data on project progress.

    Beyond construction sites, heavy machinery companies like Caterpillar and Komatsu are exploring ways to use autonomous vehicles in mining operations in Australia and Canada, respectively, while Volvo has done pilot projects for autonomous vehicles in mining and sugar cane plantations.

    Ready-Campbell says the company’s AI is different from other solutions because it must manipulate its environment, understand terrain and obstacles with lidar data, and do things like predict the amount of force necessary to dig soil.

    Built Robotics projects work separately from people today, but in the future the company wants its AI to operate in more complex environments that contain piping or underground utilities, as well as people.

    The $33 million funding round was led by Next47, a $1.2 billion venture fund backed by Siemens, with participation from NEA, Founders Fund, Lemnos, and Presidio Ventures. The company has raised $48 million to date.

    Built Robotics is based in San Francisco and has 40 employees.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531953
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Google today launched Google Research India, its first AI lab in India. In related news, Google also pledged to expand its AI-powered flood prediction system in India to warn nearby residents through smartphones or human volunteers.

    The lab will be led by IIIT Bangalore Infosys foundation chair and professor Manish Gupta, who has a background in deep learning, video analysis, and education. Gupta is also cofounder and CEO of education tech startup VideoKen.

    Harvard University professor Milind Tambe will act as director of AI for Social Good for Google Research India and will focus on issues like agriculture, health care, and education.

    Some of these topics are already being explored in the country.

    In February, Google’s AI for detection of diabetic retinopathy in eye scan images was deployed for clinical use in Madurai, India, while a Google Global AI Impact Challenge winner from India is currently working on the use of AI to reduce the threat of pests to crops.

    Like its other research centers, Google Research India will submit papers to AI conferences and participate in local AI community events.

    Google Research India joins Google research centers in New York, Toronto, and Zurich and follows the opening of dedicated AI centers and research operations in various parts of the world.

    Former Google cloud chief scientist Dr. Fei-Fei Li opened Google’s first first AI lab in Asia in Shanghai in December 2017.

    The Google AI team in France that formed in January 2018 is focused on health, science, and art research, while in June 2018 Google announced plans to open its first AI lab from a tech giant in Africa.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531910
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Google is growing its flood prediction AI for India to cover more than 11,000 square kilometers along the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers, the company announced today. Approximately 20% of global flood fatalities occur in India.

    Monsoon rains have been above average in India for three consecutive weeks, Reuters reported Wednesday.

    Since Flood Forecast initiative trials in the Patna region first began about a year ago, 800,000 notifications have been sent to smartphone users. Notifications are also sent to a human network of volunteers with the nonprofit SEEDS who spread emergency warnings to people without phones.

    The expansion will be supported by new forecast methodologies — like a recently developed approach to creating Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) — that optimize the inundation model to work with tensor processing units (TPU) and supply predictions 85 times faster than with CPUs alone.

    “Correlating and aligning the images in large batches, we adjust their camera models (and simultaneously solve for a coarse terrain) to make the images mutually consistent. Then we create a depth map for each image. To make the elevation map, we optimally fuse the depth maps together at each location,” Google senior software engineer Sella Nevo said in a blog post. “For additional efficiency improvements, we’re also looking at using machine learning to replace some of the physics-based algorithms, extending data-driven discretization to two-dimensional hydraulic models, so we can support even larger grids and cover even more people.”

    In addition to using TPUs to improve the accuracy of flood predictions, Google began to draw on imagery from the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellite constellation.

    In January, Google said flood predictions had achieved 75% accuracy. Model prediction levels have remained the same, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

    Flood prediction systems could become increasingly important as climate change worsens. AI models are being built to protect people and property from all kinds of natural disasters, with researchers this week publishing a paper on machine learning to predict large wildfires.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531376
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    A multidisciplinary group of researchers from the University of California, Irvine created a machine learning model to predict the potential of large wildfires from the time of ignition. The decision classifier model uses a single dataset to predict whether a fire will be large roughly 50% of the time, outperforming more complex models tested by researchers that rely on multiple weather variables.

    Researchers trained the AI with air moisture data over the span of the average weather report using data from more than 1,100 fire events in Alaska between 2001 and 2017 from the Alaska Large Fire Database. Each fire was then labeled as small, medium, or large. The model is then able to predict approximately 40% of ignitions that lead to large wildfires that account for 75% of burned area during that time period.

    Though the model is trained to predict outcomes of fires in forests primarily made up of boreal trees, the kind found in Alaska and northern Canada, such a model could be used to allocate resources for fire officials in parts of the western United States where wildfires are expected to increase in frequency as a result of climate change.

    “This type of simple classification system could offer insight into optimal resource allocation, helping to maintain a historical fire regime and protect Alaskan ecosystems,” the report reads. “The huge fires and their impacts in recent years may warrant a rethinking of fire management; lands that have previously been limited suppression zones could now require increased suppression effort to maintain contemporary burning levels and mitigate impacts to humans and vulnerable ecosystems.”

    As the report references, fire aerosols account for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year globally and make contributions to the global carbon footprint. One University of New Hampshire study predicts that the size of wildfire burn area could double by 2050 compared to levels seen in the 1990s.

    The simpler approach achieved more accurate results than four other more complex machine learning classifiers in the scikit-learn package like multi-layer perceptron and gradient boosting. The findings were published Tuesday in the International Journal of Wildlife Fire.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531506
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Indus.ai today closed an $8 million series A round for its construction project computer vision solution, which delivers real-time insights to project managers.

    The startup uses images and video footage from nearly 100 million square feet of construction sites to train an AI system that helps builders monitor the pace of progress on construction projects, ensure safety compliance, and reduce inefficiencies.

    The new funding will be used for product development and to growth the company’s marketing and sales teams.

    “We call ourselves Indus because it’s industrial AI and we see a huge opportunity in continuing to push forward on safety and productivity for industrial spaces,” Indus.ai CEO Matt Man told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

    Indus.ai also focuses on helping companies digitize data for an industry that often looks to manual methods to gather project data, Man said.

    Major construction companies around the world are increasingly turning to technology to reduce construction project delays and accident costs. The 2019 KPMG global construction survey of executives at major construction companies found that more than 60% plan to use real-time models to predict risks and returns within the next five years.

    Indus.ai competes with a range of companies also interested in using computer vision in industrial environments — from Microsoft’s push to monitor factories for safety compliance to Autodesk computer vision for safety compliance.

    The $8 million round was led by Millennium New Horizons, with participation from Foundamental, Groundbreak Ventures, Bootstrap Labs, and Spero Ventures. Indus.ai has raised $11.7 million following a $3.7 million seed round last year.

    In other construction tech news, earlier this week Fieldwire raised $33.5 million to help businesses digitize construction site data.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531509
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    The Portal team at Facebook is today introducing its latest generation of devices for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger video calls, augmented reality experiences, and Amazon Alexa interactions with the debut of Portal TV, the 8-inch Portal Mini smart display, and the 10-inch redesigned Portal smart display.

    With Portal TV, you can watch streaming video together with friends and family, although at launch this is limited to Facebook Watch video content. The device plugs into your television using an HDMI cable.

    Video calls with Portal work with up to seven people and harness artificial intelligence to enhance the experience. Smart Camera is made to recognize people in a video call and to automatically frame shots. Smart Volume works to modulate volume settings so you can hear a person whether they’re nearby or moving around a room. Facebook’s people identification AI operates locally on the device.

    The introduction of the three devices today follows the October 2018 debut of Portal and Portal+ smart displays, the first pieces of hardware developed internally by Facebook and its consumer hardware Building 8 skunk works projects.

    [caption id="attachment-2531551" align="aligncenter" width="800"] 8-inch Portal Mini[/caption]

    Portal TV begins shipping November 5 and will cost $149. The redesigned Portal will cost $179, while the Portal Mini will cost $129. Both devices ship October 15.

    The prices of the Portal and Portal Mini will be welcome news to consumers, since the original Portal and 15-inch Portal+ released one year ago currently cost $199 and $350, respectively.

    Using an 8-microphone array and far-field voice recognition, Portal TV and Portal smart displays can interact with Amazon AI assistant Alexa to play music, check the weather, and check on the status of an order from the Amazon online marketplace.

    The Watch Together feature adds to the growing number of things you can do with friends and family during video calls. Callers with Portal devices can also share Spotify or iHeartRadio music together, wear augmented reality masks, tell children’s stories with AR, and play AR games together.

    AR games will be available on all Portal devices, beginning with four titles: Puffy Bunny, Don’t Smile, Kittens Match, and This or That, a Portal spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. AR effects and games are only available during Messenger video calls. AR games for Facebook Messenger video calls were first introduced for Facebook Messenger group video calls in August 2018.

    Facebook Instant Games support was also added for Portal smart displays to let users play games like Battleship or Words With Friends late last year.

    When not being used for video calls, Portal devices will be able to stream Amazon Prime Video or circulate photos of friends on Facebook or Instagram, a feature Facebook calls Superframe.

    [caption id="attachment-2531548" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Superframe on Portal TV[/caption]

    The release of new Portal devices today comes as Facebook plans to expand Portal sales to more nations around the world. The devices were initially available in the U.S. and Canada and will later this year become available in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand.

    The Portal team and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first shared plans to introduce WhatsApp calls for Portal devices and extend sales to European countries at the F8 developer conference in May.

    Facebook’s latest devices compete with Alexa and Google Assistant-powered smart displays, such as the Nest Hub Max and the second-generation Echo Show.

    New Amazon hardware that works with Alexa is expected out next week as Amazon hosts an annual event in Seattle, while Google is planning to introduce new hardware — like the Pixel 4 — at an October 15 event in New York City.

    Facebook employees out of the company’s Redmond, Washington office are also reportedly developing an AI assistant.

    On Tuesday, news emerged that Facebook’s AR/VR unit, which includes its Portal division, is also developing augmented reality glasses due out by 2025.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531325
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Oracle’s digital assistant is now available in Microsoft Teams, the cloud hosting and services provider announced today. Oracle’s AI assistant got several other updates today, including the ability to interact via voice commands, enterprise-grade security for voice recordings, and the ability to respond to more complex voice commands.

    The news was announced today at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. As part of the Microsoft Teams integration, Microsoft Teams and Office 365 users will be able to access Oracle enterprise bots from the Microsoft Teams App Store.

    “For enterprise customers, what we’re enabling [them] to do now is they can easily try to use Microsoft Teams to collaborate with their employees and colleagues and so forth with Microsoft Teams,” Oracle VP of AI and digital assistant Suhas Uliyar told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “So now what we’re making possible is the ability for them to just sort of interact with the digital assistant using the same Microsoft Teams tools, and getting access to all the Oracle applications as part of that.”

    In June, Oracle and Microsoft announced a partnership for interoperability between Microsoft’s Azure and Oracle Cloud Applications so a customer could, for example, operate a database in one cloud and applications in another. Another recent OpenWorld announcement: Oracle plans to open 20 new cloud region datacenters around the world by the end of 2020.

    The Oracle Digital Assistant platform — first introduced at last year’s OpenWorld event — gives enterprise employees a conversational way to complete a range of tasks associated with marketing, sales, customer service, IT help desk, HR management, recruiting, and ERP.

    Since then, Oracle has forged integrations with Slack, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, as well as popular assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

    “While we had integrations with all the available virtual personal assistants’ voice APIs, the challenge for the enterprise customers was definitely [people thinking] ‘I don’t want my data to go to these clouds,'” Uliyar said. “What we are doing is providing an SDK where the voice part can be part of the enterprise’s application, whether it’s a web application [or] a mobile application.”

    This approach may work for customer service scenarios but may be insufficient for enterprise customers who provide the Oracle digital assistant to their employees. These clients may need the ability to maintain GDPR compliance or protect personally identifiable information or provide enhanced security or privacy.

    “Now there are a lot — you can read it in the press — of privacy concerns. I mean, yes, that is a concern, but the bigger concern is if, for instance, I say as part of GDPR compliance: ‘I want all my records deleted.’ Our enterprises are not going to be able to knock on the door of Amazon or Apple or Google and say, ‘Can you please delete any records for an individual, because he doesn’t want his records to be stored?’ That’s not going to happen,” he said.

    Oracle digital assistant is able to respond to more complex voice commands and do things like reply to follow-up questions with semantic parsing and sequence-to-sequence vectoring, Uliyar said.

    The assistant’s speech SDK also received an upgrade so it can understand more expressive conversational exchanges in voice interactions and the particular kinds of words enterprise users typically employ while at work. For example, terms like “annual recurring revenue” or “ARR” and “key account director” or “KAD” are now part of the Oracle assistant’s vocabulary. Companies can also manufacture and incorporate their own conversational data. Previously, the assistant might have heard KAD and interpreted it as cat, card, or Canadian dollar.

    Vocabulary for Oracle’s AI assistant is built for verticals like finance and banking, hospitality management, construction management, utilities, and telecommunications.

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  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533581
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Amazon today shared plans to roll out Doorbell Concierge, a way for AI assistant Alexa to answer your front door and speak with visitors through Ring video doorbells. Concierge will begin to roll out for Ring Video Doorbell Elite users starting next year, Amazon VP David Limp said onstage in a presentation at company headquarters in Seattle.

    The concierge uses Alexa Conversations tech to take messages for a homeowner, ask the best way to contact a visitor, or even tell a delivery person where to leave a package.

    Amazon also rolled out the Ring Retrofit Alarm Kit, a home security accessory; the Ring Stick Up Cam, a home security camera for $99; and Ring Indoor Cam for $59 starting today.

    Also introduced today for home security: Alexa Guard for tracking when a person is detected in your home when you’ve told Alexa you’re not there.

    As part of its initiative to address privacy concerns, Ring also got Home Mode today so video cameras stop recording once you’ve arrived home.

    Many new devices made their debut today, including the Echo Studio smart speaker with 3D sound, a new generation of Echo speakers, Echo Buds, and a range of new features. A number of first-party devices include Amazon Smart Oven, Echo Glow light, Eero WiFi router, and Echo Flex, which spreads an array of microphones in your home for communicating with Alexa.

    At the same event last year, Amazon introduced roughly a dozen new devices, including a new smart plug as well as AmazonBasics microwave and wall clock, each of which can be controlled with Alexa.

    The continued marriage of Alexa with AmazonBasic is Amazon’s attempt to yoke its ecommerce marketplace and Echo’s presence in tens of millions of homes to sell more smart home devices.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533546
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Amazon today unveiled the Echo Studio, a smart speaker that works with AI assistant Alexa that includes 3D Dolby Atmos to optimize sound based on room metrics. The Echo Studio includes 3 mid-range speakers — left, right, and top — with directional tweeter and a 5-inch subwoofer for bass and bigger sound. Users can also stream sound from Amazon Fire video content to Echo Studio speakers.

    The Echo Studio is available for preorder today and costs $199. Also introduced today: an Echo Dot with a clock, a new line of Echo speakers, and Echo Show 8. The news was announced today at an event at Amazon headquarters in Seattle.

    The Echo Studio, announced in an invite-only event in Seattle at Amazon headquarters today, follows the introduction of Echo Amp and Echo Sub to enhance existing Echo speakers one year ago.

    Echo Studio will give Amazon a device to compete with Google Home Max and a range of flexible smart speakers introduced this year from high-end audio companies like Bose and Sonos that can speak with either Alexa or Google Assistant. Unlike those more flexible devices, Echo Studio will speak exclusively with Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.

    On Tuesday, Amazon and a group of dozens of other companies, including Salesforce, Bose, Sonos, and Microsoft, created the Voice Interoperability Initiative for a multi-assistant world.

    At the same event last year, Amazon introduced new Echo Dot and Echo Plus smart speakers and a second-generation Echo Show smart display.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533618
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Starting today, Alexa Privacy Hub will allow users of the AI assistant to opt-in to have their voice recordings deleted on a 3-month or 18-month basis.

    New voice commands are also coming soon, like “Alexa, tell me what you heard” to review recordings and “Alexa, why did you do that?” to get an explanation for an action the AI assistant took.

    The news was announced today in a presentation at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. Amazon VP of devices David Limp began the hardware event by highlighting ways Amazon is taking to satisfy people’s privacy concerns, including Home Mode, a feature coming to Ring security and home doorbell devices in November to automatically switch off cameras when you come home.

    Today’s event comes just days after Google shared plans to make human review of Google Assistant voice recordings require opt-in by users.

    With the release of the original Echo in 2015, Amazon and Alexa created the smart speaker category. Since then Amazon has continued to be the most popular smart speaker in the U.S. and one of Amazon’s best-selling products.

    Alexa may also be the AI assistant best known for privacy violations.

    In May 2018, a Portland woman reported that Alexa recorded a conversation between her and her husband, then sent it to one of his employees, while in December 2018 a German Alexa user said they were given access to voice recordings of 1,000 Alexa users.

    Then this spring, Bloomberg reported and Amazon confirmed that some recordings obtained after use of the “Alexa” wake word were reviewed by human third-party contractors for annotation or transcription.

    These incidents drew multiple inquiries from members of Congress, while state lawmakers in California and Illinois have considered requiring assistant makers to receive consent before collecting voice recordings.

    A PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis and survey found that privacy concerns could hinder adoption of AI assistants, while this spring Microsoft found that more than 40% of digital assistants users are concerned with privacy, trust, and passive listening.

    In response to privacy concerns, earlier this year Amazon introduced an option for users to make human review of voice recordings last month and an “Alexa, delete what I said today” voice command.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533512
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    A group of about 80 Google contractors that work alongside Google employees in Pittsburgh voted to unionize today.

    The group of employees at the company HCL Technologies will organize under the name Pittsburgh Association of Tech Professionals (PATP), alongside the United Steelworkers, for collective negotiation of wages and working conditions. The PATP will advocate for collective bargaining in Pittsburgh and southwest Pennsylvania.

    “We deserve more respect, dignity and democracy in our relationship with our employer,” HCL worker Joshua Borden said in a United Steelworkers statement. “We fought for a seat at the table, and today we won. We look forward to bargaining a contract that reflects our important contributions to HCL’s continuing success.”

    In response to the news, a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat: “We work with lots of partners, many of which have unionized workforces, and many of which don’t. As with all our partners, whether HCL’s employees unionize or not is between them and their employer. We’ll continue to partner with HCL.”

    The union will be formed as the result of 49 votes in favor, 24 votes against union format, and 1 objection, a USW spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

    United Steelworkers criticized HCL earlier this month for forcing employees to attend mandatory anti-union meetings and to speak with a management consultant ahead of the vote.

    In other tech worker news, last month California governor Gavin Newsom signed AB5 into law, a bill that requires gig economy companies like Uber and Postmates to consider more of their workers employees instead of independent contractors.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2533339
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Tomorrow, Amazon’s Devices team will hold what’s become an annual event in Seattle. It’s typically the biggest day of the year for AI-powered devices that work with Alexa made by Amazon, and though it’s tough to say for certain exactly what will be announced, given news leaks and the sort of announcements Amazon made in years past, we’ve got a few ideas of what might go down at Amazon headquarters. So here’s a quick rundown of what Amazon may announce at its big hardware event.

    Follow VentureBeat for breaking news and analysis for the invite-only event that begins around 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

    Home robot

    It’s been rumored for over a year that Amazon’s Lab126 is working on a home robot.

    Given the fact that anonymous sources told Bloomberg Amazon intended to release the robot as early as 2019 and we’re on the verge of the holiday season, now would be the time.

    To make such a device more than an Echo speaker on wheels, a home robot will need to deliver value like enact home security, do chores, receive Amazon package deliveries, or enable professional in-home services like the Amazon Key program. Imagine a home robot that can keep an eye on things when a plumber is fixing things or Amazon is delivering a couch.

    Echo speakers

    The introduction of new smart speakers is how this annual event got started in the first place, so new speakers seem the most likely news on the way tomorrow.

    Last year, for example, Amazon introduced its third-generation Echo Dot, still one of the best smart speakers in the world, alongside the improved 10-inch second generation Echo Show.

    A speaker with subwoofer to deliver more bass and volume than current offerings is reportedly in the mix. Such a speaker would help Amazon continue to compete with higher-end speaker makers. Bose and Sonos this year have both introduced their own sound bars and speakers that allow users to interact with either Google Assistant or Alexa.

    The introduction of more devices for enhancing sound from existing Echo speakers like the Echo Sub or Echo Amp seems unlikely, however.

    Earbuds

    Amazon reportedly plans to introduce a pair of earbuds Wednesday, a device that would finally give Amazon an offering to compete with Apple AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds.

    The Alexa wearables SDK has allowed device makers to incorporate the AI assistant into earbuds, so that’s not altogether new, but the Amazon earbuds, reportedly codenamed Puget, will reportedly double as a fitness tracker.

    Again, earbuds for tracking heart rate and steps are available today, but what could be interesting is if Alexa works as a sort of AI assistant workout partner. Sony and a few startups have worked on the idea of an AI assistant that talks you through workouts. With access to your workout data, the assistant could help people move toward long-term goals like good cardiovascular health, getting in shape to have a baby, or training to run a half marathon.

    Just as Alexa now changes her voice when reading news reports, don’t be surprised if such a device uses a more expressive voice when acting as your workout partner.

    New Alexa features

    At last year’s event, Amazon showcased Alexa Follow Up, a way to interact with Alexa without the need to repeat the “Alexa” wake word, and Alexa Guard, which alerts users when a speaker hears the sound of glass breaking or a security alarm.

    Don’t be surprised if among new features that get introduced is a new or enhanced way to improve privacy protections. Events like human review of Alexa voice recordings and numerous episodes with Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera have inflamed consumer privacy concerns this year. Toward this end, earlier this year Amazon began to allow users to disable human review of voice recordings and delete recordings with a voice command.

    High-profile features in the works this year from Amazon’s Alexa AI team include emotion detection and Alexa Conversations, a way to weave together experiences between multiple Alexa skills so you could, for example, reduce the number of steps necessary to plan a night out to less than a dozen exchanges instead of 40. Amazon chief scientist Rohit Prasad first introduced Conversations earlier this year at Amazon’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas.

    On Monday, Amazon launched Show and Tell for Echo Show devices to identify household goods for low vision and blind people. This appears to be one of the first integrations of object detection for Amazon smart displays.

    Then on Tuesday, Amazon and companies like Microsoft and Salesforce launched the Voice Interoperability Initiative to bring together multiple AI assistants on devices.

    Fire TV

    We are on the verge of the launch of Disney+, a streaming service expected to shake up the streaming video industry now dominated by players like Netflix and Amazon.

    Amazon last year showcased Fire TV Recast for DVR and streaming video of local television, and so new major offerings from Fire TV or expanded options with Fire TV Recast could be on the menu for Wednesday.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2532701
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Microsoft is rolling out two new software solutions today to help brick-and-mortar retailers track customers and improve service. Dynamics 365 Connected Store will utilize a combination of computer vision, cameras, and IoT sensors to track customers inside stores and personalize recommendations based on their browsing and buying behavioral data.

    Events detected by Connected Store will trigger web app notifications or email alerts for in-store staff with predictions to improve sales and store efficiency.

    Connected Store can do things like sense a need for more staff at checkout counters, identify issues with store equipment, and surface long-term trends for managers.

    [caption id="attachment-2532702" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce[/caption]

    Also new is Dynamics 365 Commerce, software that pulls insights from businesses that have ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail operations. Dynamics 365 Commerce will also use call center and back office data to power customer personalization.

    A series of upgrades aimed at helping marketers and increasing customer satisfaction was also introduced today. This includes the expansion of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to cover B2B use cases. Made generally available this spring for B2C use cases, Customer Insights draws on Azure Machine Learning and Azure Cognitive Services. It can now equip businesses with AI-powered tools to evaluate customers, draw insights from leads, and understand connections between customers and buying groups.

    [caption id="attachment-2532709" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights[/caption]

    Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service now calculates the amount of time a company saves using a conversational AI agent versus a human customer service agent. This metric will be available on a new enterprise bot dashboard, which will include a customer satisfaction score and a list of the topics used to arrive at the score.

    Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management will connect signals from IoT sensors with business transaction data to do things like predict the need for maintenance or replacement of equipment, while a fraud protection tool for ecommerce merchants is due out later this year.

    A year ago, Microsoft Dynamics 365 introduced a series of solutions for the workplace — including enterprise Cortana skills and Microsoft’s first HoloLens-powered augmented reality experiences for the workplace.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2532688
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Google Assistant no longer stores recordings of users’ voices by default, the company announced today. VentureBeat has reached out to Google for details about when its policy on storing voice recordings was actually changed.

    Now people who interact with Google Assistant will have to opt in when setting up their Google Assistant if they want to have their voice recorded or reviewed by humans through the new Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) program. This data can be used to improve Google Assistant’s conversational AI or Google’s ability to recognize a person’s voice. Existing Voice Match users will be prompted to reconfirm that they want Google to store their recordings.

    Google Assistant users will also soon be given the option to reduce the sensitivity of the AI assistant’s response to the “Hey Google” command.

    The series of changes was introduced after Google paused human review of recordings this summer.

    “It’s clear that we fell short of our high standards in making it easy for you to understand how your data is used, and we apologize,” the company said in a blog post.

    After hearing a wake word, AI assistants like Cortana, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant use voice recordings to improve conversational AI systems trained with labeled and unlabeled data. When the year began, neither the media nor the public knew that humans were listening to interactions recorded by AI assistants, but the practice has come to light in recent months, inflaming fear that smart speakers can be used to eavesdrop on individuals in the privacy of their homes or offices.

    The truth became clear this spring, when Bloomberg reported and Amazon confirmed that human contractors in various parts of the world listen to voice recordings after hearing the “Alexa” wake word or similar sounds.

    Then in July a third-party contractor leaked Google Assistant voice recordings for users in the Netherlands. A day later, Google verified that humans review some recordings, less than 1%, the company said shortly after the news broke. We learned that Siri’s recordings are also reviewed by humans, and Cortana’s as well.

    In response, both Apple and Google pledged to halt human reviews, and Amazon allowed users to disable human voice recording reviews.

    While introducing Portal TV and two other new devices last week, Facebook’s Portal team acknowledged that it collects user voice recordings.

    Lawmakers in states like California and Illinois have this year considered legislation requiring the makers of AI assistants to gain permission from users before recording their voice data.

    Read this VentureBeat article for instructions on how to limit or get rid of voice recordings from the makers of popular AI assistants like Alexa, Bixby, and Google Assistant.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531979
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    A collaborative group that includes Salesforce, Deloitte, the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the United Kingdom Office of AI today introduced guidelines for government officials procuring artificial intelligence systems.

    The WEF is calling the guidelines the first for any national government worldwide.

    In the works for about 10 months, the guidelines were brought together by the WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its AI and ML team. The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution hosts fellows from nations around the world to focus on major initiatives.

    Governments the world over are increasingly using AI to do things like predict the needs of citizens; help with health care screening; or augment criminal justice with features like predictive policing, tracking suspects with facial recognition, and determining whether people deserve pretrial bail hearings.

    The guidelines provide governments with a definition of artificial intelligence and 10 recommendations laid out roughly in order of importance. The aim is to ensure responsible use of AI by the public sector, and the guidelines cover areas like the need to define public benefit while assessing risks.

    The guidelines also urge governments to avoid writing proposal requests that stress exact needs. Instead, governments should define a problem and then allow room for iteration to find the best AI solution. Government officials are urged to ensure their procurement is in line with a national AI strategy — if their country has one in place — and to aim for interoperability between AI systems and open licensing to avoid vendor lock-in.

    The guidelines also implore government officials to use AI systems that can deliver explainability in order to provide explanations of how a model came to a conclusion.

    “Governments do not have the latitude of using the inscrutable ‘black box’ algorithms that increasingly characterize AI deployed by industry. Without clear guidance on how to ensure accountability, transparency, and explainability, governments may fail in their responsibility to meet public expectations of both expert and democratic oversight of algorithmic decision-making and may inadvertently create new risks or harms,” the document reads.

    The government procurement guidelines were first reported by VentureBeat this spring following a conversation with Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution director Kay Firth-Butterfield about how AI can grow without stifling innovation. Other fellows include a New Zealand government official now working to reimagine the role of government regulators in the age of AI.

    The WEF has shown a deep interest in AI this year. In May, it launched a Global AI Council that draws on tech luminaries like Microsoft president Brad Smith, Sinnovation Ventures founder Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, and individuals from Element AI, IBM, Future of Life Institute, and government ministers from a number of countries, including the United Kingdom.

    In July, WEF announced its list of more than 50 tech pioneers, at least 20 of which use machine learning.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531770
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Autonomous construction equipment company Built Robotics today closed a $33 million funding round to expand its operations to more use cases.

    The Built Robotics autonomous system is able to operate on bulldozers, excavators, and skid steers and is currently being used in a number of clean energy projects in remote areas devoid of human construction workers in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and other parts of the Midwestern United States.

    Built Robotics vehicles are fully autonomous and require no humans in the loop, CEO Noah Ready-Campbell told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

    The funding will be used to expand Built Robotics’ AI systems into more use cases, like infrastructure, highways, and road projects, as well as energy sector projects like wind turbines and solar farms. The funding will also be used to hire engineers and fit more heavy machinery with automated systems. Built Robotics wants to make it possible for construction projects to add automation to vehicles or equipment in construction zones with a simple kit.

    Due to regulations and other factors, Ready-Campbell is convinced construction will be automated long before autonomous vehicles are on public roads.

    “I think the thing that’s most exciting to me about autonomous construction equipment is that it’s here and actually deployed on real job sites today with real revenue coming in, real customers, and real projects that are being constructed using our robots, and that’s different from the self-driving car space,” he said. “Because we’re in a somewhat more constrained environment, we’re actually able to move faster, and I think you’re going to see widespread autonomy within the construction industry before you will in the transportation industry, as a result.”

    Construction startups have been especially popular this week: On Tuesday, Fieldwire raised $33.5 million to digitize construction sites, and on Wednesday Indus.ai raised $8 million for its computer vision that helps managers maintain project progress and safety compliance. Last month, Open Space raised $14 million for its construction computer vision solution.

    Like those solutions, Built Robotics says its AI can help keep construction projects on track and avoid delay costs by being able to operate overnight and well beyond a typical eight-hour shift while collecting data on project progress.

    Beyond construction sites, heavy machinery companies like Caterpillar and Komatsu are exploring ways to use autonomous vehicles in mining operations in Australia and Canada, respectively, while Volvo has done pilot projects for autonomous vehicles in mining and sugar cane plantations.

    Ready-Campbell says the company’s AI is different from other solutions because it must manipulate its environment, understand terrain and obstacles with lidar data, and do things like predict the amount of force necessary to dig soil.

    Built Robotics projects work separately from people today, but in the future the company wants its AI to operate in more complex environments that contain piping or underground utilities, as well as people.

    The $33 million funding round was led by Next47, a $1.2 billion venture fund backed by Siemens, with participation from NEA, Founders Fund, Lemnos, and Presidio Ventures. The company has raised $48 million to date.

    Built Robotics is based in San Francisco and has 40 employees.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531953
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Google today launched Google Research India, its first AI lab in India. In related news, Google also pledged to expand its AI-powered flood prediction system in India to warn nearby residents through smartphones or human volunteers.

    The lab will be led by IIIT Bangalore Infosys foundation chair and professor Manish Gupta, who has a background in deep learning, video analysis, and education. Gupta is also cofounder and CEO of education tech startup VideoKen.

    Harvard University professor Milind Tambe will act as director of AI for Social Good for Google Research India and will focus on issues like agriculture, health care, and education.

    Some of these topics are already being explored in the country.

    In February, Google’s AI for detection of diabetic retinopathy in eye scan images was deployed for clinical use in Madurai, India, while a Google Global AI Impact Challenge winner from India is currently working on the use of AI to reduce the threat of pests to crops.

    Like its other research centers, Google Research India will submit papers to AI conferences and participate in local AI community events.

    Google Research India joins Google research centers in New York, Toronto, and Zurich and follows the opening of dedicated AI centers and research operations in various parts of the world.

    Former Google cloud chief scientist Dr. Fei-Fei Li opened Google’s first first AI lab in Asia in Shanghai in December 2017.

    The Google AI team in France that formed in January 2018 is focused on health, science, and art research, while in June 2018 Google announced plans to open its first AI lab from a tech giant in Africa.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531910
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Google is growing its flood prediction AI for India to cover more than 11,000 square kilometers along the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers, the company announced today. Approximately 20% of global flood fatalities occur in India.

    Monsoon rains have been above average in India for three consecutive weeks, Reuters reported Wednesday.

    Since Flood Forecast initiative trials in the Patna region first began about a year ago, 800,000 notifications have been sent to smartphone users. Notifications are also sent to a human network of volunteers with the nonprofit SEEDS who spread emergency warnings to people without phones.

    The expansion will be supported by new forecast methodologies — like a recently developed approach to creating Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) — that optimize the inundation model to work with tensor processing units (TPU) and supply predictions 85 times faster than with CPUs alone.

    “Correlating and aligning the images in large batches, we adjust their camera models (and simultaneously solve for a coarse terrain) to make the images mutually consistent. Then we create a depth map for each image. To make the elevation map, we optimally fuse the depth maps together at each location,” Google senior software engineer Sella Nevo said in a blog post. “For additional efficiency improvements, we’re also looking at using machine learning to replace some of the physics-based algorithms, extending data-driven discretization to two-dimensional hydraulic models, so we can support even larger grids and cover even more people.”

    In addition to using TPUs to improve the accuracy of flood predictions, Google began to draw on imagery from the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellite constellation.

    In January, Google said flood predictions had achieved 75% accuracy. Model prediction levels have remained the same, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

    Flood prediction systems could become increasingly important as climate change worsens. AI models are being built to protect people and property from all kinds of natural disasters, with researchers this week publishing a paper on machine learning to predict large wildfires.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531376
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    A multidisciplinary group of researchers from the University of California, Irvine created a machine learning model to predict the potential of large wildfires from the time of ignition. The decision classifier model uses a single dataset to predict whether a fire will be large roughly 50% of the time, outperforming more complex models tested by researchers that rely on multiple weather variables.

    Researchers trained the AI with air moisture data over the span of the average weather report using data from more than 1,100 fire events in Alaska between 2001 and 2017 from the Alaska Large Fire Database. Each fire was then labeled as small, medium, or large. The model is then able to predict approximately 40% of ignitions that lead to large wildfires that account for 75% of burned area during that time period.

    Though the model is trained to predict outcomes of fires in forests primarily made up of boreal trees, the kind found in Alaska and northern Canada, such a model could be used to allocate resources for fire officials in parts of the western United States where wildfires are expected to increase in frequency as a result of climate change.

    “This type of simple classification system could offer insight into optimal resource allocation, helping to maintain a historical fire regime and protect Alaskan ecosystems,” the report reads. “The huge fires and their impacts in recent years may warrant a rethinking of fire management; lands that have previously been limited suppression zones could now require increased suppression effort to maintain contemporary burning levels and mitigate impacts to humans and vulnerable ecosystems.”

    As the report references, fire aerosols account for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year globally and make contributions to the global carbon footprint. One University of New Hampshire study predicts that the size of wildfire burn area could double by 2050 compared to levels seen in the 1990s.

    The simpler approach achieved more accurate results than four other more complex machine learning classifiers in the scikit-learn package like multi-layer perceptron and gradient boosting. The findings were published Tuesday in the International Journal of Wildlife Fire.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531506
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Indus.ai today closed an $8 million series A round for its construction project computer vision solution, which delivers real-time insights to project managers.

    The startup uses images and video footage from nearly 100 million square feet of construction sites to train an AI system that helps builders monitor the pace of progress on construction projects, ensure safety compliance, and reduce inefficiencies.

    The new funding will be used for product development and to growth the company’s marketing and sales teams.

    “We call ourselves Indus because it’s industrial AI and we see a huge opportunity in continuing to push forward on safety and productivity for industrial spaces,” Indus.ai CEO Matt Man told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

    Indus.ai also focuses on helping companies digitize data for an industry that often looks to manual methods to gather project data, Man said.

    Major construction companies around the world are increasingly turning to technology to reduce construction project delays and accident costs. The 2019 KPMG global construction survey of executives at major construction companies found that more than 60% plan to use real-time models to predict risks and returns within the next five years.

    Indus.ai competes with a range of companies also interested in using computer vision in industrial environments — from Microsoft’s push to monitor factories for safety compliance to Autodesk computer vision for safety compliance.

    The $8 million round was led by Millennium New Horizons, with participation from Foundamental, Groundbreak Ventures, Bootstrap Labs, and Spero Ventures. Indus.ai has raised $11.7 million following a $3.7 million seed round last year.

    In other construction tech news, earlier this week Fieldwire raised $33.5 million to help businesses digitize construction site data.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531509
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    The Portal team at Facebook is today introducing its latest generation of devices for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger video calls, augmented reality experiences, and Amazon Alexa interactions with the debut of Portal TV, the 8-inch Portal Mini smart display, and the 10-inch redesigned Portal smart display.

    With Portal TV, you can watch streaming video together with friends and family, although at launch this is limited to Facebook Watch video content. The device plugs into your television using an HDMI cable.

    Video calls with Portal work with up to seven people and harness artificial intelligence to enhance the experience. Smart Camera is made to recognize people in a video call and to automatically frame shots. Smart Volume works to modulate volume settings so you can hear a person whether they’re nearby or moving around a room. Facebook’s people identification AI operates locally on the device.

    The introduction of the three devices today follows the October 2018 debut of Portal and Portal+ smart displays, the first pieces of hardware developed internally by Facebook and its consumer hardware Building 8 skunk works projects.

    [caption id="attachment-2531551" align="aligncenter" width="800"] 8-inch Portal Mini[/caption]

    Portal TV begins shipping November 5 and will cost $149. The redesigned Portal will cost $179, while the Portal Mini will cost $129. Both devices ship October 15.

    The prices of the Portal and Portal Mini will be welcome news to consumers, since the original Portal and 15-inch Portal+ released one year ago currently cost $199 and $350, respectively.

    Using an 8-microphone array and far-field voice recognition, Portal TV and Portal smart displays can interact with Amazon AI assistant Alexa to play music, check the weather, and check on the status of an order from the Amazon online marketplace.

    The Watch Together feature adds to the growing number of things you can do with friends and family during video calls. Callers with Portal devices can also share Spotify or iHeartRadio music together, wear augmented reality masks, tell children’s stories with AR, and play AR games together.

    AR games will be available on all Portal devices, beginning with four titles: Puffy Bunny, Don’t Smile, Kittens Match, and This or That, a Portal spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. AR effects and games are only available during Messenger video calls. AR games for Facebook Messenger video calls were first introduced for Facebook Messenger group video calls in August 2018.

    Facebook Instant Games support was also added for Portal smart displays to let users play games like Battleship or Words With Friends late last year.

    When not being used for video calls, Portal devices will be able to stream Amazon Prime Video or circulate photos of friends on Facebook or Instagram, a feature Facebook calls Superframe.

    [caption id="attachment-2531548" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Superframe on Portal TV[/caption]

    The release of new Portal devices today comes as Facebook plans to expand Portal sales to more nations around the world. The devices were initially available in the U.S. and Canada and will later this year become available in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand.

    The Portal team and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first shared plans to introduce WhatsApp calls for Portal devices and extend sales to European countries at the F8 developer conference in May.

    Facebook’s latest devices compete with Alexa and Google Assistant-powered smart displays, such as the Nest Hub Max and the second-generation Echo Show.

    New Amazon hardware that works with Alexa is expected out next week as Amazon hosts an annual event in Seattle, while Google is planning to introduce new hardware — like the Pixel 4 — at an October 15 event in New York City.

    Facebook employees out of the company’s Redmond, Washington office are also reportedly developing an AI assistant.

    On Tuesday, news emerged that Facebook’s AR/VR unit, which includes its Portal division, is also developing augmented reality glasses due out by 2025.

  • in reply to: Google’s Duo launches video calls with up to 8 people -2531325
    0

    Khari Johnson
    Moderator

    Oracle’s digital assistant is now available in Microsoft Teams, the cloud hosting and services provider announced today. Oracle’s AI assistant got several other updates today, including the ability to interact via voice commands, enterprise-grade security for voice recordings, and the ability to respond to more complex voice commands.

    The news was announced today at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. As part of the Microsoft Teams integration, Microsoft Teams and Office 365 users will be able to access Oracle enterprise bots from the Microsoft Teams App Store.

    “For enterprise customers, what we’re enabling [them] to do now is they can easily try to use Microsoft Teams to collaborate with their employees and colleagues and so forth with Microsoft Teams,” Oracle VP of AI and digital assistant Suhas Uliyar told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “So now what we’re making possible is the ability for them to just sort of interact with the digital assistant using the same Microsoft Teams tools, and getting access to all the Oracle applications as part of that.”

    In June, Oracle and Microsoft announced a partnership for interoperability between Microsoft’s Azure and Oracle Cloud Applications so a customer could, for example, operate a database in one cloud and applications in another. Another recent OpenWorld announcement: Oracle plans to open 20 new cloud region datacenters around the world by the end of 2020.

    The Oracle Digital Assistant platform — first introduced at last year’s OpenWorld event — gives enterprise employees a conversational way to complete a range of tasks associated with marketing, sales, customer service, IT help desk, HR management, recruiting, and ERP.

    Since then, Oracle has forged integrations with Slack, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, as well as popular assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

    “While we had integrations with all the available virtual personal assistants’ voice APIs, the challenge for the enterprise customers was definitely [people thinking] ‘I don’t want my data to go to these clouds,'” Uliyar said. “What we are doing is providing an SDK where the voice part can be part of the enterprise’s application, whether it’s a web application [or] a mobile application.”

    This approach may work for customer service scenarios but may be insufficient for enterprise customers who provide the Oracle digital assistant to their employees. These clients may need the ability to maintain GDPR compliance or protect personally identifiable information or provide enhanced security or privacy.

    “Now there are a lot — you can read it in the press — of privacy concerns. I mean, yes, that is a concern, but the bigger concern is if, for instance, I say as part of GDPR compliance: ‘I want all my records deleted.’ Our enterprises are not going to be able to knock on the door of Amazon or Apple or Google and say, ‘Can you please delete any records for an individual, because he doesn’t want his records to be stored?’ That’s not going to happen,” he said.

    Oracle digital assistant is able to respond to more complex voice commands and do things like reply to follow-up questions with semantic parsing and sequence-to-sequence vectoring, Uliyar said.

    The assistant’s speech SDK also received an upgrade so it can understand more expressive conversational exchanges in voice interactions and the particular kinds of words enterprise users typically employ while at work. For example, terms like “annual recurring revenue” or “ARR” and “key account director” or “KAD” are now part of the Oracle assistant’s vocabulary. Companies can also manufacture and incorporate their own conversational data. Previously, the assistant might have heard KAD and interpreted it as cat, card, or Canadian dollar.

    Vocabulary for Oracle’s AI assistant is built for verticals like finance and banking, hospitality management, construction management, utilities, and telecommunications.

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Amiir Nur -   Amiir Nur of HararHarar stands apart from  Muslim's and  Marehan in history The foundation of Harar goes back to the foundation of the first Muslim sultanate at the central and southern Ethiopia in 896 A.D. In 1521 A.D. Amir Abubakar Muhammad tranferred his capital from Dakar to Harar which before long emerged as the most important town in the horn of Africa. After the fourteen years of successive holy wars and the defeat of Iman Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim Algaz (Gran) in 1543, the power was assumed by his nephew, Amir Nur ibn Alwazir Mujahid, who married the late Imam's widow, Bati Del Wambara. It was he who was responsible for the construction of the great wall (Jugal) around Harar for defensive purpose. This structure becomes the towns' most important feature. Because of its strategy, situated on the eastern spur of the southern Ethiopian mountain massif, Harar become the most important trade centre, playing an intermediary role between the two trading companies, the rich higlands of the interior and the Gulf of Aden ports. As a result Harar's rulers struck their own currencies, the second ones in the history of Ethiopia after that of the Axumite and the only such money produced at that time in this part of Africa Harar then and later, was like wise a notable Muslim city, producing a fine Islamic manuscripts taken to mosques all over the the horn, known as a muslim strong hold in the horn, some scholars considered it as the "fourth Muslim city" after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, while others named it "Madinat al Awliyes" - the city of saints. Despite its commercial, religious and cultural importance, Harar was for centuries a closed and mysterious city until the early 19th centuries. After the defeat at the battle of challanqo in 1887, by Melelik of Shewa, Harar ceased to be an independent state and was forced to become part of Ethiopia. Today Harar is the smallest state in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethipia, located in the south eastern about 526 km from Addis Ababa. Harar was established by Sultan Abu Beker Mohammed in 1520. Harar, the Holy City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, is believed to be the forth-holiest city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The old City Wall of Harar is the main attraction and symbol of Islamic architecture. Harar has approximately 90 mosques, which form the largest concentration of mosques in the world. One of Harar's main attractions is the hyena man who feeds hyenas on the outskirts of the town every night.Harar is known for its turmoil and bloodshed. Ahmed Gragn killed Abu Beker Mohammed who was the ruler of Harar. Ahmed Gragn was a militant Muslim leader and used Harar as his base to launch hisjihad and raids against the Ethiopian Christian Empire in 1528. He destroyed many churches and threatened the complete distruction of Ethiopian Christendom. He was killed by Emperor Gelawdewos in a Battle near Lake Tana in 1543. The raids continued against the Christians led by Ahmed Gragn's widow Bati Del Wambara. In 1559, Emperor Gelawdewos marched on Harar with the aim to eradicate the constant religious sectarianism taking place. Gelawdewos was killed in a battle and his head was paraded around the city on a stake. In 1647, Emir Ali ibn Daud took control the city and established an autonomous administration. Despite the continuous fighting with Oromo tribes, Harar expanded; it became well populated, an important city for trade and a centre of Muslim scholarship. It issued its own currency. After 250 years of autonomous rule, Egypt occupied Harar and killed the Emir in 1875. The Egyptian action created a strong resistance in the Muslim community of Harar. Emir Abdullah took control and led a campaign against the Egyptians, which ended in 1885.In 1887, Harar lost its autonomy when Menelik, Prince of Shewa, who later became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, waged war against the army of Emir Abdullah. Menelik defeated the Emir at the Battle of Chelenko in 1887. Menelik then established a new administration, including several members of the emir's family to prevent renewed religious sectarianism, headed by Ras Mekonnen, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie.Harar then began to disintegrate and lost its status as a trade centre in the end of nineteenth century when the railway line was built between Addis Ababa and Djibouti through Dire Dawa. From 1902, Dire Dawa became the main commercial centre of Ethiopia.However, Harar remained as the spiritual City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, the political capital of Hararge Province until 1994 and has become a federal city-state since 1995.  History of HararBy Ahmed Zakarya (1995)Historian and Antrhopologist  The ancient metropolis of a once mighty race, the only permanent settlement in Eastern Africa, the reported seat of Muslim learning, a walled city of stone houses, possessing its independent chief, its peculiar population, its unknown language and its own coinage; the emporium of the coffee trade and the head-quarters of the slave trade and the great manufacture of cotton cloths, amply it appeareddeserved the trouble of exploration. Richard Burton( xxvi, 1894) Before the recent rise of Addis Ababa and Nairobi was the only city worth of the title in east Africa between the Ethiopia city of Gondar, to the north of Lake Tana, and the Arab city of Zanibar, on the island off the east Africa coast. Arnold J Toynbee(1965) ETHIOPIA, the cradle of mankind, one of the crossroads of civilization, and a mosaic of nationalities, has much to offer to the world heritage. It has already registered six centers in the UNESCO World heritage list. This prehistoric and natural sites are comparable with some of the moat famous world monuments. Hadar, the birth place of Lucy. Lalibela, and the archaeological site of Tiya are some of the wonders of Ethiopia. There are still more place to be considered for the World Heritage list; Harar located in south Eastern Ethiopia about 526 kms from Addis Ababa, should be one of them. Harar is among those cities in Africa that enjoy a mild climate throughout the year. The well-known 19TH century traveler, Sir Richard Burton, who was the first European visitor to enter what he called "forbidden city " left us a vivid memorable ten days in Harar. In his own words " Harar is not hot, cool but not cold" quoting a description of heaven-favoured city, according to a Persianpoet. He also compares it with the climate of the Italian city of Tuscany. Butchlozer(101,1955) a traveler who visited a century after Burton, has this to say about the natural beauty of Harar; It doesn't matter you go there when the coffee bushes are in flower andthe air is heavy with their strong bitter scent, or when the ripe fruit of theOrange trees glow in the sunlight, it is always lovely in Harar; there is always something blooming, always being harvested. At least seven settlements are mentioned as the precursors of Harar according to a popular legend. These were esshkanti gai (gai means "city" or "settlement"). Fereka gai, harawe gai. Hassen gai; Ruhuk gai; Sammti gai; and Tuhkungai. All this sites are now awaititng archaeological excavation to tell their stories, except Hasseb gai wich still keeps the name north Harar. These settlement resolved their enmity and agreed to establish their center in Harar. This center had fertile soil with abundant water to establish a sustainable agriculture system: it was also a healthier location, being free from the common tropical diseases, such as malaria, which are rampant in surrounding lowland. There are many legends related to the foundation of the city. However, shakih Abadir, " the patron Saint" comes first when the name of Harar is mentioned. He is said comes with his entourage in the tenth century from Arabia. It is belived that he was the one who organised the administrative system of the city and also gave Harar its name. With its numerous mosques and shrines, Harar is considered the "fourth holy city of Islam" after Mecca, Mediana and Jerusalem.Perched on a gentle hill, drained by network of rivres, Harar is an ancient walled city. It was founded a millennium ago, between the seventh and ninth AD, by a Semitic- speaking people. The agricultural system of Harar was effective and efficient. Using terracing and irrigation as well as intercropping which is useful for tropical soil and a symbolically correct practice, the harar farmers were able to produce grain and cash crops in adequate supplies for local consumption and export. It is also considered as the original cultivation center of the world famous coffee arabica and the mild stimulant leaf called (cath edulis). Both are lucrative export items, which provide the Ethiopian economy with substantial financial resources. Harar was not dependent exclusively on agriculture, but also benefited from carvan trade, since it was geographically a half way house of extensive trade between the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean littoral and the vast Ethiopian hinterland .To facilitate the international trade of those days, Harar had to mint its own coinage. In the whole of Ethiopian Region, it was the second center after Axum to produce coins since at least the Middle Age on. Harar also played a role bridge between the old Axumite coins and the modern ones since the first coins of Menlik were struck in Harar. This broad and stable economic base helped Harar to become one of the leading center of learning in the horn of Africa and to develop a unique urban culture uninterrupted through the centuries. The shift of the capital city of the Adal State from Deker, an old settlement, to the city of Harar in 1520 brought about the heyday of Harar. The new capital become the springboard for Imam Ahmed Gragn, to incorporate to the Horn of Africa. However, the leading role of Harar did not last long. After the wars of Gragn, Harar was exposed to frequent attack from different sides.Nur, the nephew of Imam Ahmed Gragn, built the remarkable defensive wall popularly known as jugal. This wall warmly engulf the city which is confined within 48 hectares and 362 narrow lanes. The circumference of the wall 3,348 meters; with five traditional gates. These five gates demarcate the administrative as well as the socio-zones of the old city. Jugal gives a sense of direction and belonging to harar. This wall, therefore, defines the major cultural texture of holistic fabric of the harar. Without it, the native feels as if the link with social and cultural environment is missing. The social system is governed by gai a da the culture of Harar communicatedthrough a unique language which is a mixture of Cushtic and Semitic languagesknown as gai sinan, the language of the city. The hala mahal etiquette, of the city is a binding force to enhance urban culture. After its heyday as the center of the mighty Adal state, Harar gradually declined and become a small city- state ruled by the dawoodi dynasty from 1647 to 1875. The occupying force of Egypt interrupted the rule of the dynasty between 1875-1885. The closed gates to European travellers were wide open during the Egyptians occupation. Rhmbaud, Paulischke (1888) and many other came to Harar. The last Amir, Abudullahi, took over the mantle power for less than 2 years, but was defeated by Menelik at the Battle of Chelenqo in 1887. Thereafter, Harar was incorporated into greater Ethiopia, which was then inthe process of formation. Although it lost its independence, Harar remained one of the most important economic emporia of the new empire ofthe new empire of Emperor Menelik. The occupation of Harar is considered oneof the major turning point for the success of Menelik against his rival powers, both internal and external. In fact, "it would be impossible to write the history of Modern Ethiopia without reference to Harar" [Henze,188,1977] Addis Ababa, the present capital of Ethiopia, which was established at the time of the Battle of Chelenqo, benefited from Harar experiecne. Surveyors, masons, bookkeeper, peace keepers called yaradda zebegn, tailors and similar professionals who were beckoned to Addis Ababa, contributed and disseminated their skills in the building of the national preparation of the famous Battle of Adawa of 1896. Just before the coming of the Italian Fascist invasion and occupation of the 193, two journalist, Waugh[1934] and Frago[1935] visited Harar. Both of them were impressed with cultural life of the city. Cerulli [1936 and 1971] who was first class Italian scholar of Semitic studies joined the invading army and administered Harar for sometimes. His books are still the best reference work on the history of city. As the result of the invasion, Harar expanded greatly and is now quite often referred to as "the great harar." The Italian destroyed the northern farmland and established their administration headquarters called Butega without affecting the old walled city. Within a walking distance one can easily transcend space and time to pass from a medieval pre-industrail realty to modern city. The old city, with its traditional rectangular stone house, winding narrow lanes, abundance of mosques and shrines as land marks, perpetually enchants its visitors as well as its residents; in contrast, the modern quarter is characterized by wide asphalt roads and concrete buildings. Currently, Harar is one of the nine national of states of Federal State, encompasses about 400 sq. Km. With a population of more than 120, 000 is ready to encounter the twenty first-century with self assured strides to fulfill its responsibility of integrated development in all sphere of life. The age old metropolitan Harar has already achieved impressive results in various fields of activities. This old city which claims more than a millennium of history is happy to share its mystic knowledge and is ready to learn from others. Moving from a macro to micro view of the city reveals an abundance of aesthetic traditions that echo this beauty. Many compound had courtyard with green plants, pots, benches and that sense of peace and order in a small space which is so often characteristic of traditional Islamic life according to the observation of Henz. The Harari house reveals a sense of proportion and mastery of building technology, perfected over the centuries, that is both warm and inviting. Inside the house, on the walls of the living room, one is overwhelmed by the balance and color composition of the display of baskets. The colorful dress of Harari women is anther dimension of the aesthetic beauty that permeates Harari life. Indeed, Harar the jewel of east, has earned many names; Abadir,' Medinet al Awlia's, Jebel al Awlias', the fourth Muslim City', The Timbukutu of the East" and many others. Still, it radiates as a historical, cultural as well as social peg which should be reserved for posterity without affecting new innovative trends. The maze narrow lanes and the unforgettable colorfull market scenes, added to the uniquely structured houses, give the city the touch of a living museum. The recent conservation attempt is encouraging, but it is not enough. In conclusion, this is a glimpse of the beauty of the walled city. A mountain top view of Harar reveals a mosaic of diverse scenery. One sees great natural beauty in contrast to the beauty of the human built environment. The colours are remarkable. Outside the city walls the lush green foliage with meandering steams reminds one of Persian carpets. The prolific writer on Ethiopian affairs, Henze, compare this beauty with an illustration of medieval manuscript. In contrast, inside the old wall the colors and shapes change, one sees primarily whites and grays and diverse ranging of geometric shapes of varying sizes. The hill on which the old city resists is a constantly changing organic form, shaped and reshaped by the hands of masons for over a millennium. The house, mosques, the two churches, the market places and the narrow streets from this magnificent work of art. -Harar in History In 1855 AD the British explorer Richard Burton became the first European to enter the City of Harar and in his letter of justification for embarking on a venture perceived to be fraught with unknown dangers he describes Harar as the entre-pot between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean coasts and the massive Ethiopian hinterland as:- The ancient metropolis of a once mighty race, the only permanent settlement in Easten Africa, the reported seat of Muslim learning, a walled city of stone houses possessing its independent chief, its peculiar population, its unknown language, and its own coinage and the great manufacture of cotton cloths, amply it appeared, deserved the trouble of exploration. In the 140 years since then Harar had gone through innumerable vicissitudes including four major wars, a series of socio-economic upheavals and natural catastrophes. And yet it has maintained its dignity. Its unique culture and a particular brand of serenity. Harar today is a city whose people thrive on smiles and friendliness. And unlike Burtons days. It can be easily and most comfortably reached along an asphalt high way from Dire Dawa. Which is only 55 kms away and by all weather road from Jijiga. In historical retrospect, Harar began to come into geo-political prominence with the founding of the first Muslim Sultanate in 896 AD. It flourished through the centuries and served as a powerful economic and commercial capital of a vast Muslim State, which vied on equal terms with the Atse state in North West Ethiopia. It further became the administrative capital of the Region in 1521 AD. The great defensive wall called the Jugal, that surrounds the inner citadel of harar was built in the 1550s by Amir Nur, the nephew of the great Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi, commonly known as AHMED GRAGN Harar is located in South Eastern Ethiopia at about 526 kms from Addis Ababa. It is situated between 9018. North latitude and 4207. East longitude. It is bordered to the north by Combolcha and jarso, to the South by Fadis, to the East by Babile and to the West by Alemaya. It is situated on the plateau between 1600 ms and 1900 ms above sea level. Aw Hakim is the major mountain near the city. The main rivers are the Hamaressa, Erer and Bissidimo further more numerous rivers in the area flow South to drain in the Wabi Shaballe basin. In fact the Jugal itself is surrounded by streams which spring intermittently in their very short course from the five gates. Climatically, Harar is among the luckiest cities in the world which are mild throughout the year. To quote Richard Burton again it is warm but not hot. Cool but not cold. The rainy season lasts from June to September. The annual average rainfall varies between 700-800 mm. And the temperature between 12.60C and 260C. Agriculture is the main economic activity. The cash crops include the finest coffee, the high grade hides and skins, ground nuts, fruits and chat (cata adulis). As it has been stated earlier, Harar, the ancient metropolis of Eastern Ethiopia became a fully developed city state almost 1000 years ago - - just at the beginning of the second millennium A.D. The Jugal or the defensive wall surrounding the inner city, was erected by Amir Nur early in the 16th century, as a bastion against the marauding hordes, propelled by the massive south/north cushitic migrations and the subsequent upheavals, which through the course of three-score years redesigned the ethno-cultural and socio-economic configuration of Ethiopia. In the more recent past, the imperialist conflicts in Europe, which instigated inter alia the Scramble for Africa further fragmented Eastern Ethiopia and drastically circumscribed the role of Harar as a major entrepot, or half-way house between the Ethiopian hinterland and the Red sea/Indian ocean littorals and waterways. However, with the completion of the Ethio-Djibouti railway in the first quarter of the current century, Harar could maintain a classic geographic inertia to benefit economically from Ethiopias expanding foreign trade through the period of the Italian occupation till the end of world war II. In fact, at the conclusion of the Ethio-Italian War in 1941, the province of Hararghe which consisted of an integrated Land mass divided from the major Ethiopian massif, and cut off to the East, by the Great Rift Valley. However, by the early 1960s, Arussi and Bale were whittled away by the Haile Sellassie regime to from runaway mini-provinces. And in 1988, the Derg further carved the already impaired Hararghe Province into two Administrative and two the so-called Autonomous regions. And finally, in 1992, the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), as part of a fundamental restructuring of the Ethiopian state on democratic bases, has delimited Harar and its surrounding sub-districts into, Region XIII, consisting territorially of the inner city of Harar and its concentric rural rings within an approximate radius of 10 to 15 kms to form the democratically elective and autonomous Region. After formation of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Harari People National Regional State became one of the nine Regional States of Ethiopia.-The rise and development of settlements in the regionSettlements in the region are believed to have existed some 1200 years back and the tribe is identified as Punt tribe, from which the Hararis are believed to have emerged. Different settlement site are postulated around Harar, such as Dakar, Malka, before the establishment of the walled city of Harar some 10 centuries ago. Though Harar town is refereed to as a medieval town, (after the construction of the wall) the city was established some 1000 years back. A simple proof is the age of the "Jumma Meskid"1 of Harar town which is over 800 years old or perhaps more and believed to have been built during the reign of Awe Abadir. The fact that such a huge mosque was built, indicates that there was demand for it i.e. it was needed to accommodate the people already living in the town. The size of the mosque indicates the existence of the town long before the construction of the Jumma Mosque for Friday prayer, as the rule of Islam, such a mosque is not required for people living in scattered settlement. Hence, from this facts, it is not difficult to conclude that Harfar town existed before 1000 years, before the expansion and growth of Harar to became the capital of the then national government. According to some legend, there is a saying of the "Sati Geyach"2 which is an indication that there were similar settlements around Harar before Harar attained the status of a center of political decision, center of learning, and commerce with a link to the trade route between the Zeyla port to the west and south of Harar as far as the Bale region. Jumma Meskid -the grand & the oldest Mosque for a Friday congregation pray. Sasti Geyach- the former seven settlements prior to the walled city. The ancient government in Harar is known to have ruled and administered a far great or geographical region than the present one. The extent of the Harar state include the eastern highlands and lowlands region up to port Zayla. The government, like modern governments, had its own state machinery, political system, social system, financial and economic systems. Haring a government, are the necessary institutional frame-work enhance economic and social growth and brings about a multifaceted development of the region. It seems that the trade boom and the ability to create one of the worlds ancient market centers can be attributed to nothing else other than having a free market economy. The Harari people established their political dynasty in Harar. In the history of Harar about seventy two Amirs (Kings) were regretted. The first Amir was called Amir Haboba Ibn Harar (969-1000AD). The administrative system of the Amirs was tribal federation among the people of Harar, Somali, Afar and Argoba. Among the Amir mentioned above, Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim, better known as "Ahmed Gragn" or "Ahmed the left-handed was the famous Amir and during his reign Harari government had strong military force which could defend its interests. Due to conflict over trade route, Ahmed Gragn launched a large scale military campaign against Lebne dingil (1523-1540) of the central Christian kingdom and the first considerable victory was achieved at the battle of shumburm cure in 1527. Achieving victory after victory, Ahmed Gragn conquered and could control about three-fourth of Ethiopia until he was defeated by king Geladewos with the help of portugess military forces. The other famous ruler and among best remembered Amirs of Harar was Ahmed Gragn's nephew called Amir Nur Ibn Alwazir Mujahid who came to marry his uncle's widow in a plan to revenge against king Galawdewos. Achieving his goal, Amir Nur defeated and beheaded king Galawdewos at the battle his head to display in Harar. Then commediatly, Amir Nur became king of Harar. Amir Nur Ibn Alwazir was destined to become one of Harar's best remembered rulers. He was responsible for the construction of the great wall around the city of Harar in 1551-1552. This defensive wall, commonly known as jugal was 3342 meters in circumference, an average of twelve feet high and three feet thick. The wall had five gates and was supported by about 24 oval shaped watching towers each of the five gate was used by farmers, merchants and caravans traveling from different directions. At the beginning of the third quartos of the 19thcentury the situation of Harar changed. Port zayla including Tejuran and Berbara were seized by Egyptian force. The Egyptian rule under Rauf pasha initiated Harar in a rapid modernization process for about a decade. However with the influence of British colonial rule, Rauf pasha was forced to withdraw his troops from Harar on January 19th, 1885. Power was then smothly transfered to the document of the previous Amir, i.e. Amir Abdulahi Ibh Mohammed (1885-1887). The economic base of the Harar government, in addition to agriculture, were trade, cottage Industry and taxation. Different kinds of raw materials were exported and manufactured goods. Jewelry, etc. were imported. To deal with domestic as well as foreign trades, The Harar government used to mint its own coins in the medieval period known as "Mahalak". More than twenty different coins were minted by respective Amirs. Therefore, in the history of Ethiopia, Harari coins were the first coins next to Axumite ones. The development of man made resources, farmlands, cottage industries, handicrafts and literature can be counted the establishment of Harar town. Other factors that possibly existed were an appropriate land tenure system which allowed private ownership of land coupled with public ownership vested in agents like the Awach (shrine center with democratically elected directors) and the waqfi administration system. Some of this center are still in existence through out the rural areas, but have lost control of public resources. To mention a few Awe Umar, Awe sofi Yahya, Awe Barkadle, etc. were agents for the management of public lands. The state is also known to have manumicipal and other offices administration mechanisms for both urban and rural areas to manage agricultural land and water resources by Social organization which was lead by elected and approved leader among the farm communities. Currently available manuscripts and documents show that every house and farm was identified and managed by means of recorded plans (with drawings) and ownership certificates and licenses. No single house was built in the town illegally without the permission of the municipal or town governments. Every public property and properties belonging to orphans, mosque or the municipality were centrally registered by Quads who act as secretariats for the Amirs. -Achievements of sustainable use of resources by the ancient PeopleThe architectural and engineering knowledge is manifested in the establishment of Harar town itself. Its living houses and monuments, Mosques and shrines: that were in use for a 1000 years are clear proof of the cultural development of the people and their achievements. Currently about 6000 historical houses 96 mosques and 150 shrines are registered. The ancient Harari developed their land for farming, tamed animals and plants. Their ability to feed themselves and their off-springs for centuries on small plots of farm which can still be observed today after surviving all the historically known natural calamities and disasters is obvious. Protecting their land from degradation and loose of soil fertility they have passed over their developed resource along with the necessary knowledge and skill they possessed from generation to generation (for over thousand years) until the present. However, this land is, today though it is suffering from degradation. We can learn lessons from the methods they used to feed themselves and satisfy their needs through the proper and sustainable use and development of their natural resources. It can be seen that the human resources too, were used sustainable. Otherwise Harari's would have ceased to exist a long time ago. The successes in agricultural development is not a miracle. They had the capability to employ effective farming techniques and agricultural technologies, which are useful to our present generation too. A few of these techniques are mentions here below:- The ability to prepare fertilizers (manure) and use them properly and correctly is one factor to keep soil fertility to boost production. The awareness and ability to use the flood water to keep their land fertility and irrigate their fields. The knowledge and ability of irrigation technology through construction of small earth dams across all streams and rivers and the construction of irrigation canal along the hilly sides and uneven and rough landscape. The practice of crop rotation. Realization of the benefit of mixed farming that enables on to maintain the ecological balance and helps the effective utilization of a plot of land. The know-how of genetic engineering, (though in its crude form) for hybridization of fruit plants (for example grafting method). Effectively protecting soil erosion by means of terracing and tree contour planting. The ability to identify plants which support each other and planting them side by side (e.g. coffee and kugnee). The knowledge and ability to select various seed, crops for different localities. The ability to use "Tini" (Cactus) leaves and stems to use its rich water content by burying it near and around important plant debian-sys-maint zones (especially coffee) during draught or when water shortage is encountered. There is traditional believe that advocates planting fruit trees for use by next generations as a righteous deed. They also replace aged coffee and chat plants with new ones as a custom for each birth of an offspring. These traditional teachings prohibit the cutting or destroying of plants and trees and promote the fair treatment for animals etc. helped the conservation of such resources. The above techniques have been practiced as recently as half a century ago and in fact were witnessed during the life time of this generation. These techniques are mostly useful even today and it is only by such system of farming that the present generation can be able to maintain its inherited agricultural resources in tended with these of modern fertilizer and extensive survives. The need for modern technology and machinery- will be inevitable. However, the above farming techniques alone havent furnished all the agricultural requirements. Harars supported their farming with their own produces of all needed agricultural implements and tools in their town cottage industries. The industrial resources grew until the invasion by feudal rule and the traces of the industries, (though degraded and strangled) are steel active to day. Hararis have produced agricultural implements appropriate to (some are unique) their land feature and farm type. The implements are either made woods or metal. They produced such tools as hakafa(shevel), makhra(hoe), kalka(ox), mancha (traditional tools resembling sickle) used for different purposes) from steel and Nuguy, gamaro etc. from wood (waiza). Though they had full knowledge of heat treatment of metals and forging, it is not known whether they produced steel. There is evidence that they imported copper and some metal through foreign trade. But production of some metals or alloys were done locally as some evidence indicates. Whichever way it was done, it is clear that they facilitated their farming by being self sufficient in agriculture implements. The fact or that has made Harar town grow as a center of trade is the existence of town products from urban cottage industries along with farm products. To satisfy their clothing needs they grew cotton in their farm fields and produced yarn and cloth using their own wooden machinery. Historical records witness that Hararis have exported textiles like silk. The existence of silk fabrics is a recent memory for the present elderly generation. This sector of the textile industry survived till the 18th century. An European traveler who has visited Harar about half a century before the invasion of Harar, witnessed that Harar produced textiles of high quality superior in fabric and beauty than the ones produced in European industries. The existence of a market center and trade boom is an indication of the existence of surplus agricultural and industrial products that require a center for commodity exchange. The fact that commodity exchange was conducted by means of the local currency, metallic alloy coins, indicates the economic boom of the region. The prosperity enjoyed by the people can be measured by the fact that the handicraft industries that existed were engaged in the production of gold and silver ornaments used by the female population. This craft has reached the highest level can be witnessed in Magala Harar town even today. The silver ornaments were commonly produced and used them and currently for use by women and are considered as part of the cultural heritage and treasure. Among such ornaments: Waqri, Siyasa, shankhit, rings with pearl, earring, Muriya, can be mentioned. There are a number of Hararis who have inherited the skills require-The history of foreign traded and Resource needThe achievements of the Harari dealt with above would not have been possible with only localized trade. The existence of a natural harbor access to the other world or environment) is considered as a necessary natural resource. In the case of the Hararis, there existed such a harbor on the red sea cast east of Harar (now in Somalia) known as Zeyla, which has enabled the Harari people to trade with other nations and civilizations. Economic growth and progress in civilization is unthinkable without commerce and foreign trade. It is through external trade that people can really satisfy all their needs and exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and means for further development and better living conditions of the people. So the existence of such trade link enabled Hararis not only to exchange their commodities, but also to learn and import the latest techniques, scientific discoveries and technological achievements that the world could offer as far as it was found useful and not harming their cultural values. So it is obvious that, most likely, in this form of foreign trade, they were able to satisfy their needs and develop their agricultural and industrial techniques to develop and use sustainable their natural resources. Such trade links are historically known to have existed with the ancient Egyptian civilization, the commercial center of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and with the Far cast civilization as far as China and India. The growth and development of the Harari region became stagnant and decline as a result of the colonization of the red sea coast by the expansion of colonialist powers in the horn of Africa. This deprived the people to have access to the port and the situation was further aggravated after the invasion of Harar by the feudal lords which led to the decline and degradation of all resources of Harari region. The deliberate act of the then centralist tyrant government to isolate the Harari region from the external world by complete blockage of the region even with nonbearing mutually supporting peoples has contributed to the degradation. It is an accepted principle, that when people lack access to their natural resources the result will be in poverty, stagnation of civilization and degradation of natural resources. So the decline in foreign trade followed by a decline in local trade certainly produced the deterioration in the agriculture and industry of Harar, to the extent of humiliating the workers and peasants. This fact shows how intervention affects the natural way of things and further shows us how far people can meet their needs, independently of their own resources, without external trade and free travel of people. Obviously economic development, to a certain level, brings with it additional needs. The material conditions determine the concioucesness. The higher the level of development the greater the need is (or vise versa). This must considered when such issues like the sustainable use of resources are dealt with all the issues boil down to satisfaction of peoples needs and the improvement of their living conditions. Impact of external (or foreign) intervention on resources The Hararis have enjoyed centuries of prosperity and economic and social progress under their own sovereign government and had attained the highest status in human civilization comparative with other regions of Ethiopia before it fell a century ago, under the yoke of the far backward feudal rule headed by barbarous war lords of Shoa. It was after a series of battle and the defeat of the Harari people at the Chelenko battle field that the region's economic development took a reversal course. The Chelenko war has resulted in the humiliation and genocide of the people and halted the region's economic progress, and the stagnation of its civilization. The part played by the then European powers in supporting the feudal lords was a grave historical error committed against, not only Hararis, but against humanity, civilization and human achievement and the environment. The degradation of the human and natural resources, the distraction and misplacement of the peoples achievements and cultural heritage followed by a massive popular migration, backwardness and poverty that is witnessed today is the result of this intervention under the rule of the gun. Population DYNAMICS and characteristics According to the result of the recent population census (September 1994) the total population of Harari region is indicated to be 131,000 of which the percentage share of female and male is 50%. The residents of Harar town are estimated to be 76,798, while the rural residents number 54,761. There are 30,071 households in the Harari region with an average of 4.3 persons per household. The variables that determine population growth are fertility, mortality and migration. The fertility rate of the Harari region is 2. The growth rate is insignificant. The infant mortality rate is 113 deaths per year per 1000 birth. The census reveals that the rate of in-migration to the Harari regions in the 12 months prior to the census was 1.6 percent, where as the migration in the four years before the census constituted 7.8 percent of the region's population. The census further indicates that about 23% of the total population of the Harari region are migrants. From this census result it is evident that almost all of the migrants have settled in the town of Harar. Hence it is possible to conclude that 23 percent of the Harar town residents are in-migrants. According to this analysis, one can conclude that the in-migrants substantially contribute to the annual growth rate of the population of the Harari region. Thus, the implementation of the population policy in the region should consider the impact of this in-migration on the population dynamics of the Harari people so as to avoid distortion in planning conservatory participation. Population size by Ethnic group : 1877 and 1994 Amiir Nur -   Amiir Nur of HararHarar stands apart from  Muslim's and  Marehan in history The foundation of Harar goes back to the foundation of the first Muslim sultanate at the central and southern Ethiopia in 896 A.D. In 1521 A.D. Amir Abubakar Muhammad tranferred his capital from Dakar to Harar which before long emerged as the most important town in the horn of Africa. After the fourteen years of successive holy wars and the defeat of Iman Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim Algaz (Gran) in 1543, the power was assumed by his nephew, Amir Nur ibn Alwazir Mujahid, who married the late Imam's widow, Bati Del Wambara. It was he who was responsible for the construction of the great wall (Jugal) around Harar for defensive purpose. This structure becomes the towns' most important feature. Because of its strategy, situated on the eastern spur of the southern Ethiopian mountain massif, Harar become the most important trade centre, playing an intermediary role between the two trading companies, the rich higlands of the interior and the Gulf of Aden ports. As a result Harar's rulers struck their own currencies, the second ones in the history of Ethiopia after that of the Axumite and the only such money produced at that time in this part of Africa Harar then and later, was like wise a notable Muslim city, producing a fine Islamic manuscripts taken to mosques all over the the horn, known as a muslim strong hold in the horn, some scholars considered it as the "fourth Muslim city" after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, while others named it "Madinat al Awliyes" - the city of saints. Despite its commercial, religious and cultural importance, Harar was for centuries a closed and mysterious city until the early 19th centuries. After the defeat at the battle of challanqo in 1887, by Melelik of Shewa, Harar ceased to be an independent state and was forced to become part of Ethiopia. Today Harar is the smallest state in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethipia, located in the south eastern about 526 km from Addis Ababa. Harar was established by Sultan Abu Beker Mohammed in 1520. Harar, the Holy City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, is believed to be the forth-holiest city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The old City Wall of Harar is the main attraction and symbol of Islamic architecture. Harar has approximately 90 mosques, which form the largest concentration of mosques in the world. One of Harar's main attractions is the hyena man who feeds hyenas on the outskirts of the town every night.Harar is known for its turmoil and bloodshed. Ahmed Gragn killed Abu Beker Mohammed who was the ruler of Harar. Ahmed Gragn was a militant Muslim leader and used Harar as his base to launch hisjihad and raids against the Ethiopian Christian Empire in 1528. He destroyed many churches and threatened the complete distruction of Ethiopian Christendom. He was killed by Emperor Gelawdewos in a Battle near Lake Tana in 1543. The raids continued against the Christians led by Ahmed Gragn's widow Bati Del Wambara. In 1559, Emperor Gelawdewos marched on Harar with the aim to eradicate the constant religious sectarianism taking place. Gelawdewos was killed in a battle and his head was paraded around the city on a stake. In 1647, Emir Ali ibn Daud took control the city and established an autonomous administration. Despite the continuous fighting with Oromo tribes, Harar expanded; it became well populated, an important city for trade and a centre of Muslim scholarship. It issued its own currency. After 250 years of autonomous rule, Egypt occupied Harar and killed the Emir in 1875. The Egyptian action created a strong resistance in the Muslim community of Harar. Emir Abdullah took control and led a campaign against the Egyptians, which ended in 1885.In 1887, Harar lost its autonomy when Menelik, Prince of Shewa, who later became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, waged war against the army of Emir Abdullah. Menelik defeated the Emir at the Battle of Chelenko in 1887. Menelik then established a new administration, including several members of the emir's family to prevent renewed religious sectarianism, headed by Ras Mekonnen, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie.Harar then began to disintegrate and lost its status as a trade centre in the end of nineteenth century when the railway line was built between Addis Ababa and Djibouti through Dire Dawa. From 1902, Dire Dawa became the main commercial centre of Ethiopia.However, Harar remained as the spiritual City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, the political capital of Hararge Province until 1994 and has become a federal city-state since 1995.  History of HararBy Ahmed Zakarya (1995)Historian and Antrhopologist  The ancient metropolis of a once mighty race, the only permanent settlement in Eastern Africa, the reported seat of Muslim learning, a walled city of stone houses, possessing its independent chief, its peculiar population, its unknown language and its own coinage; the emporium of the coffee trade and the head-quarters of the slave trade and the great manufacture of cotton cloths, amply it appeareddeserved the trouble of exploration. Richard Burton( xxvi, 1894) Before the recent rise of Addis Ababa and Nairobi was the only city worth of the title in east Africa between the Ethiopia city of Gondar, to the north of Lake Tana, and the Arab city of Zanibar, on the island off the east Africa coast. Arnold J Toynbee(1965) ETHIOPIA, the cradle of mankind, one of the crossroads of civilization, and a mosaic of nationalities, has much to offer to the world heritage. It has already registered six centers in the UNESCO World heritage list. This prehistoric and natural sites are comparable with some of the moat famous world monuments. Hadar, the birth place of Lucy. Lalibela, and the archaeological site of Tiya are some of the wonders of Ethiopia. There are still more place to be considered for the World Heritage list; Harar located in south Eastern Ethiopia about 526 kms from Addis Ababa, should be one of them. Harar is among those cities in Africa that enjoy a mild climate throughout the year. The well-known 19TH century traveler, Sir Richard Burton, who was the first European visitor to enter what he called "forbidden city " left us a vivid memorable ten days in Harar. In his own words " Harar is not hot, cool but not cold" quoting a description of heaven-favoured city, according to a Persianpoet. He also compares it with the climate of the Italian city of Tuscany. Butchlozer(101,1955) a traveler who visited a century after Burton, has this to say about the natural beauty of Harar; It doesn't matter you go there when the coffee bushes are in flower andthe air is heavy with their strong bitter scent, or when the ripe fruit of theOrange trees glow in the sunlight, it is always lovely in Harar; there is always something blooming, always being harvested. At least seven settlements are mentioned as the precursors of Harar according to a popular legend. These were esshkanti gai (gai means "city" or "settlement"). Fereka gai, harawe gai. Hassen gai; Ruhuk gai; Sammti gai; and Tuhkungai. All this sites are now awaititng archaeological excavation to tell their stories, except Hasseb gai wich still keeps the name north Harar. These settlement resolved their enmity and agreed to establish their center in Harar. This center had fertile soil with abundant water to establish a sustainable agriculture system: it was also a healthier location, being free from the common tropical diseases, such as malaria, which are rampant in surrounding lowland. There are many legends related to the foundation of the city. However, shakih Abadir, " the patron Saint" comes first when the name of Harar is mentioned. He is said comes with his entourage in the tenth century from Arabia. It is belived that he was the one who organised the administrative system of the city and also gave Harar its name. With its numerous mosques and shrines, Harar is considered the "fourth holy city of Islam" after Mecca, Mediana and Jerusalem.Perched on a gentle hill, drained by network of rivres, Harar is an ancient walled city. It was founded a millennium ago, between the seventh and ninth AD, by a Semitic- speaking people. The agricultural system of Harar was effective and efficient. Using terracing and irrigation as well as intercropping which is useful for tropical soil and a symbolically correct practice, the harar farmers were able to produce grain and cash crops in adequate supplies for local consumption and export. It is also considered as the original cultivation center of the world famous coffee arabica and the mild stimulant leaf called (cath edulis). Both are lucrative export items, which provide the Ethiopian economy with substantial financial resources. Harar was not dependent exclusively on agriculture, but also benefited from carvan trade, since it was geographically a half way house of extensive trade between the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean littoral and the vast Ethiopian hinterland .To facilitate the international trade of those days, Harar had to mint its own coinage. In the whole of Ethiopian Region, it was the second center after Axum to produce coins since at least the Middle Age on. Harar also played a role bridge between the old Axumite coins and the modern ones since the first coins of Menlik were struck in Harar. This broad and stable economic base helped Harar to become one of the leading center of learning in the horn of Africa and to develop a unique urban culture uninterrupted through the centuries. The shift of the capital city of the Adal State from Deker, an old settlement, to the city of Harar in 1520 brought about the heyday of Harar. The new capital become the springboard for Imam Ahmed Gragn, to incorporate to the Horn of Africa. However, the leading role of Harar did not last long. After the wars of Gragn, Harar was exposed to frequent attack from different sides.Nur, the nephew of Imam Ahmed Gragn, built the remarkable defensive wall popularly known as jugal. This wall warmly engulf the city which is confined within 48 hectares and 362 narrow lanes. The circumference of the wall 3,348 meters; with five traditional gates. These five gates demarcate the administrative as well as the socio-zones of the old city. Jugal gives a sense of direction and belonging to harar. This wall, therefore, defines the major cultural texture of holistic fabric of the harar. Without it, the native feels as if the link with social and cultural environment is missing. The social system is governed by gai a da the culture of Harar communicatedthrough a unique language which is a mixture of Cushtic and Semitic languagesknown as gai sinan, the language of the city. The hala mahal etiquette, of the city is a binding force to enhance urban culture. After its heyday as the center of the mighty Adal state, Harar gradually declined and become a small city- state ruled by the dawoodi dynasty from 1647 to 1875. The occupying force of Egypt interrupted the rule of the dynasty between 1875-1885. The closed gates to European travellers were wide open during the Egyptians occupation. Rhmbaud, Paulischke (1888) and many other came to Harar. The last Amir, Abudullahi, took over the mantle power for less than 2 years, but was defeated by Menelik at the Battle of Chelenqo in 1887. Thereafter, Harar was incorporated into greater Ethiopia, which was then inthe process of formation. Although it lost its independence, Harar remained one of the most important economic emporia of the new empire ofthe new empire of Emperor Menelik. The occupation of Harar is considered oneof the major turning point for the success of Menelik against his rival powers, both internal and external. In fact, "it would be impossible to write the history of Modern Ethiopia without reference to Harar" [Henze,188,1977] Addis Ababa, the present capital of Ethiopia, which was established at the time of the Battle of Chelenqo, benefited from Harar experiecne. Surveyors, masons, bookkeeper, peace keepers called yaradda zebegn, tailors and similar professionals who were beckoned to Addis Ababa, contributed and disseminated their skills in the building of the national preparation of the famous Battle of Adawa of 1896. Just before the coming of the Italian Fascist invasion and occupation of the 193, two journalist, Waugh[1934] and Frago[1935] visited Harar. Both of them were impressed with cultural life of the city. Cerulli [1936 and 1971] who was first class Italian scholar of Semitic studies joined the invading army and administered Harar for sometimes. His books are still the best reference work on the history of city. As the result of the invasion, Harar expanded greatly and is now quite often referred to as "the great harar." The Italian destroyed the northern farmland and established their administration headquarters called Butega without affecting the old walled city. Within a walking distance one can easily transcend space and time to pass from a medieval pre-industrail realty to modern city. The old city, with its traditional rectangular stone house, winding narrow lanes, abundance of mosques and shrines as land marks, perpetually enchants its visitors as well as its residents; in contrast, the modern quarter is characterized by wide asphalt roads and concrete buildings. Currently, Harar is one of the nine national of states of Federal State, encompasses about 400 sq. Km. With a population of more than 120, 000 is ready to encounter the twenty first-century with self assured strides to fulfill its responsibility of integrated development in all sphere of life. The age old metropolitan Harar has already achieved impressive results in various fields of activities. This old city which claims more than a millennium of history is happy to share its mystic knowledge and is ready to learn from others. Moving from a macro to micro view of the city reveals an abundance of aesthetic traditions that echo this beauty. Many compound had courtyard with green plants, pots, benches and that sense of peace and order in a small space which is so often characteristic of traditional Islamic life according to the observation of Henz. The Harari house reveals a sense of proportion and mastery of building technology, perfected over the centuries, that is both warm and inviting. Inside the house, on the walls of the living room, one is overwhelmed by the balance and color composition of the display of baskets. The colorful dress of Harari women is anther dimension of the aesthetic beauty that permeates Harari life. Indeed, Harar the jewel of east, has earned many names; Abadir,' Medinet al Awlia's, Jebel al Awlias', the fourth Muslim City', The Timbukutu of the East" and many others. Still, it radiates as a historical, cultural as well as social peg which should be reserved for posterity without affecting new innovative trends. The maze narrow lanes and the unforgettable colorfull market scenes, added to the uniquely structured houses, give the city the touch of a living museum. The recent conservation attempt is encouraging, but it is not enough. In conclusion, this is a glimpse of the beauty of the walled city. A mountain top view of Harar reveals a mosaic of diverse scenery. One sees great natural beauty in contrast to the beauty of the human built environment. The colours are remarkable. Outside the city walls the lush green foliage with meandering steams reminds one of Persian carpets. The prolific writer on Ethiopian affairs, Henze, compare this beauty with an illustration of medieval manuscript. In contrast, inside the old wall the colors and shapes change, one sees primarily whites and grays and diverse ranging of geometric shapes of varying sizes. The hill on which the old city resists is a constantly changing organic form, shaped and reshaped by the hands of masons for over a millennium. The house, mosques, the two churches, the market places and the narrow streets from this magnificent work of art. -Harar in History In 1855 AD the British explorer Richard Burton became the first European to enter the City of Harar and in his letter of justification for embarking on a venture perceived to be fraught with unknown dangers he describes Harar as the entre-pot between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean coasts and the massive Ethiopian hinterland as:- The ancient metropolis of a once mighty race, the only permanent settlement in Easten Africa, the reported seat of Muslim learning, a walled city of stone houses possessing its independent chief, its peculiar population, its unknown language, and its own coinage and the great manufacture of cotton cloths, amply it appeared, deserved the trouble of exploration. In the 140 years since then Harar had gone through innumerable vicissitudes including four major wars, a series of socio-economic upheavals and natural catastrophes. And yet it has maintained its dignity. Its unique culture and a particular brand of serenity. Harar today is a city whose people thrive on smiles and friendliness. And unlike Burtons days. It can be easily and most comfortably reached along an asphalt high way from Dire Dawa. Which is only 55 kms away and by all weather road from Jijiga. In historical retrospect, Harar began to come into geo-political prominence with the founding of the first Muslim Sultanate in 896 AD. It flourished through the centuries and served as a powerful economic and commercial capital of a vast Muslim State, which vied on equal terms with the Atse state in North West Ethiopia. It further became the administrative capital of the Region in 1521 AD. The great defensive wall called the Jugal, that surrounds the inner citadel of harar was built in the 1550s by Amir Nur, the nephew of the great Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi, commonly known as AHMED GRAGN Harar is located in South Eastern Ethiopia at about 526 kms from Addis Ababa. It is situated between 9018. North latitude and 4207. East longitude. It is bordered to the north by Combolcha and jarso, to the South by Fadis, to the East by Babile and to the West by Alemaya. It is situated on the plateau between 1600 ms and 1900 ms above sea level. Aw Hakim is the major mountain near the city. The main rivers are the Hamaressa, Erer and Bissidimo further more numerous rivers in the area flow South to drain in the Wabi Shaballe basin. In fact the Jugal itself is surrounded by streams which spring intermittently in their very short course from the five gates. Climatically, Harar is among the luckiest cities in the world which are mild throughout the year. To quote Richard Burton again it is warm but not hot. Cool but not cold. The rainy season lasts from June to September. The annual average rainfall varies between 700-800 mm. And the temperature between 12.60C and 260C. Agriculture is the main economic activity. The cash crops include the finest coffee, the high grade hides and skins, ground nuts, fruits and chat (cata adulis). As it has been stated earlier, Harar, the ancient metropolis of Eastern Ethiopia became a fully developed city state almost 1000 years ago - - just at the beginning of the second millennium A.D. The Jugal or the defensive wall surrounding the inner city, was erected by Amir Nur early in the 16th century, as a bastion against the marauding hordes, propelled by the massive south/north cushitic migrations and the subsequent upheavals, which through the course of three-score years redesigned the ethno-cultural and socio-economic configuration of Ethiopia. In the more recent past, the imperialist conflicts in Europe, which instigated inter alia the Scramble for Africa further fragmented Eastern Ethiopia and drastically circumscribed the role of Harar as a major entrepot, or half-way house between the Ethiopian hinterland and the Red sea/Indian ocean littorals and waterways. However, with the completion of the Ethio-Djibouti railway in the first quarter of the current century, Harar could maintain a classic geographic inertia to benefit economically from Ethiopias expanding foreign trade through the period of the Italian occupation till the end of world war II. In fact, at the conclusion of the Ethio-Italian War in 1941, the province of Hararghe which consisted of an integrated Land mass divided from the major Ethiopian massif, and cut off to the East, by the Great Rift Valley. However, by the early 1960s, Arussi and Bale were whittled away by the Haile Sellassie regime to from runaway mini-provinces. And in 1988, the Derg further carved the already impaired Hararghe Province into two Administrative and two the so-called Autonomous regions. And finally, in 1992, the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), as part of a fundamental restructuring of the Ethiopian state on democratic bases, has delimited Harar and its surrounding sub-districts into, Region XIII, consisting territorially of the inner city of Harar and its concentric rural rings within an approximate radius of 10 to 15 kms to form the democratically elective and autonomous Region. After formation of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Harari People National Regional State became one of the nine Regional States of Ethiopia.-The rise and development of settlements in the regionSettlements in the region are believed to have existed some 1200 years back and the tribe is identified as Punt tribe, from which the Hararis are believed to have emerged. Different settlement site are postulated around Harar, such as Dakar, Malka, before the establishment of the walled city of Harar some 10 centuries ago. Though Harar town is refereed to as a medieval town, (after the construction of the wall) the city was established some 1000 years back. A simple proof is the age of the "Jumma Meskid"1 of Harar town which is over 800 years old or perhaps more and believed to have been built during the reign of Awe Abadir. The fact that such a huge mosque was built, indicates that there was demand for it i.e. it was needed to accommodate the people already living in the town. The size of the mosque indicates the existence of the town long before the construction of the Jumma Mosque for Friday prayer, as the rule of Islam, such a mosque is not required for people living in scattered settlement. Hence, from this facts, it is not difficult to conclude that Harfar town existed before 1000 years, before the expansion and growth of Harar to became the capital of the then national government. According to some legend, there is a saying of the "Sati Geyach"2 which is an indication that there were similar settlements around Harar before Harar attained the status of a center of political decision, center of learning, and commerce with a link to the trade route between the Zeyla port to the west and south of Harar as far as the Bale region. Jumma Meskid -the grand & the oldest Mosque for a Friday congregation pray. Sasti Geyach- the former seven settlements prior to the walled city. The ancient government in Harar is known to have ruled and administered a far great or geographical region than the present one. The extent of the Harar state include the eastern highlands and lowlands region up to port Zayla. The government, like modern governments, had its own state machinery, political system, social system, financial and economic systems. Haring a government, are the necessary institutional frame-work enhance economic and social growth and brings about a multifaceted development of the region. It seems that the trade boom and the ability to create one of the worlds ancient market centers can be attributed to nothing else other than having a free market economy. The Harari people established their political dynasty in Harar. In the history of Harar about seventy two Amirs (Kings) were regretted. The first Amir was called Amir Haboba Ibn Harar (969-1000AD). The administrative system of the Amirs was tribal federation among the people of Harar, Somali, Afar and Argoba. Among the Amir mentioned above, Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim, better known as "Ahmed Gragn" or "Ahmed the left-handed was the famous Amir and during his reign Harari government had strong military force which could defend its interests. Due to conflict over trade route, Ahmed Gragn launched a large scale military campaign against Lebne dingil (1523-1540) of the central Christian kingdom and the first considerable victory was achieved at the battle of shumburm cure in 1527. Achieving victory after victory, Ahmed Gragn conquered and could control about three-fourth of Ethiopia until he was defeated by king Geladewos with the help of portugess military forces. The other famous ruler and among best remembered Amirs of Harar was Ahmed Gragn's nephew called Amir Nur Ibn Alwazir Mujahid who came to marry his uncle's widow in a plan to revenge against king Galawdewos. Achieving his goal, Amir Nur defeated and beheaded king Galawdewos at the battle his head to display in Harar. Then commediatly, Amir Nur became king of Harar. Amir Nur Ibn Alwazir was destined to become one of Harar's best remembered rulers. He was responsible for the construction of the great wall around the city of Harar in 1551-1552. This defensive wall, commonly known as jugal was 3342 meters in circumference, an average of twelve feet high and three feet thick. The wall had five gates and was supported by about 24 oval shaped watching towers each of the five gate was used by farmers, merchants and caravans traveling from different directions. At the beginning of the third quartos of the 19thcentury the situation of Harar changed. Port zayla including Tejuran and Berbara were seized by Egyptian force. The Egyptian rule under Rauf pasha initiated Harar in a rapid modernization process for about a decade. However with the influence of British colonial rule, Rauf pasha was forced to withdraw his troops from Harar on January 19th, 1885. Power was then smothly transfered to the document of the previous Amir, i.e. Amir Abdulahi Ibh Mohammed (1885-1887). The economic base of the Harar government, in addition to agriculture, were trade, cottage Industry and taxation. Different kinds of raw materials were exported and manufactured goods. Jewelry, etc. were imported. To deal with domestic as well as foreign trades, The Harar government used to mint its own coins in the medieval period known as "Mahalak". More than twenty different coins were minted by respective Amirs. Therefore, in the history of Ethiopia, Harari coins were the first coins next to Axumite ones. The development of man made resources, farmlands, cottage industries, handicrafts and literature can be counted the establishment of Harar town. Other factors that possibly existed were an appropriate land tenure system which allowed private ownership of land coupled with public ownership vested in agents like the Awach (shrine center with democratically elected directors) and the waqfi administration system. Some of this center are still in existence through out the rural areas, but have lost control of public resources. To mention a few Awe Umar, Awe sofi Yahya, Awe Barkadle, etc. were agents for the management of public lands. The state is also known to have manumicipal and other offices administration mechanisms for both urban and rural areas to manage agricultural land and water resources by Social organization which was lead by elected and approved leader among the farm communities. Currently available manuscripts and documents show that every house and farm was identified and managed by means of recorded plans (with drawings) and ownership certificates and licenses. No single house was built in the town illegally without the permission of the municipal or town governments. Every public property and properties belonging to orphans, mosque or the municipality were centrally registered by Quads who act as secretariats for the Amirs. -Achievements of sustainable use of resources by the ancient PeopleThe architectural and engineering knowledge is manifested in the establishment of Harar town itself. Its living houses and monuments, Mosques and shrines: that were in use for a 1000 years are clear proof of the cultural development of the people and their achievements. Currently about 6000 historical houses 96 mosques and 150 shrines are registered. The ancient Harari developed their land for farming, tamed animals and plants. Their ability to feed themselves and their off-springs for centuries on small plots of farm which can still be observed today after surviving all the historically known natural calamities and disasters is obvious. Protecting their land from degradation and loose of soil fertility they have passed over their developed resource along with the necessary knowledge and skill they possessed from generation to generation (for over thousand years) until the present. However, this land is, today though it is suffering from degradation. We can learn lessons from the methods they used to feed themselves and satisfy their needs through the proper and sustainable use and development of their natural resources. It can be seen that the human resources too, were used sustainable. Otherwise Harari's would have ceased to exist a long time ago. The successes in agricultural development is not a miracle. They had the capability to employ effective farming techniques and agricultural technologies, which are useful to our present generation too. A few of these techniques are mentions here below:- The ability to prepare fertilizers (manure) and use them properly and correctly is one factor to keep soil fertility to boost production. The awareness and ability to use the flood water to keep their land fertility and irrigate their fields. The knowledge and ability of irrigation technology through construction of small earth dams across all streams and rivers and the construction of irrigation canal along the hilly sides and uneven and rough landscape. The practice of crop rotation. Realization of the benefit of mixed farming that enables on to maintain the ecological balance and helps the effective utilization of a plot of land. The know-how of genetic engineering, (though in its crude form) for hybridization of fruit plants (for example grafting method). Effectively protecting soil erosion by means of terracing and tree contour planting. The ability to identify plants which support each other and planting them side by side (e.g. coffee and kugnee). The knowledge and ability to select various seed, crops for different localities. The ability to use "Tini" (Cactus) leaves and stems to use its rich water content by burying it near and around important plant debian-sys-maint zones (especially coffee) during draught or when water shortage is encountered. There is traditional believe that advocates planting fruit trees for use by next generations as a righteous deed. They also replace aged coffee and chat plants with new ones as a custom for each birth of an offspring. These traditional teachings prohibit the cutting or destroying of plants and trees and promote the fair treatment for animals etc. helped the conservation of such resources. The above techniques have been practiced as recently as half a century ago and in fact were witnessed during the life time of this generation. These techniques are mostly useful even today and it is only by such system of farming that the present generation can be able to maintain its inherited agricultural resources in tended with these of modern fertilizer and extensive survives. The need for modern technology and machinery- will be inevitable. However, the above farming techniques alone havent furnished all the agricultural requirements. Harars supported their farming with their own produces of all needed agricultural implements and tools in their town cottage industries. The industrial resources grew until the invasion by feudal rule and the traces of the industries, (though degraded and strangled) are steel active to day. Hararis have produced agricultural implements appropriate to (some are unique) their land feature and farm type. The implements are either made woods or metal. They produced such tools as hakafa(shevel), makhra(hoe), kalka(ox), mancha (traditional tools resembling sickle) used for different purposes) from steel and Nuguy, gamaro etc. from wood (waiza). Though they had full knowledge of heat treatment of metals and forging, it is not known whether they produced steel. There is evidence that they imported copper and some metal through foreign trade. But production of some metals or alloys were done locally as some evidence indicates. Whichever way it was done, it is clear that they facilitated their farming by being self sufficient in agriculture implements. The fact or that has made Harar town grow as a center of trade is the existence of town products from urban cottage industries along with farm products. To satisfy their clothing needs they grew cotton in their farm fields and produced yarn and cloth using their own wooden machinery. Historical records witness that Hararis have exported textiles like silk. The existence of silk fabrics is a recent memory for the present elderly generation. This sector of the textile industry survived till the 18th century. An European traveler who has visited Harar about half a century before the invasion of Harar, witnessed that Harar produced textiles of high quality superior in fabric and beauty than the ones produced in European industries. The existence of a market center and trade boom is an indication of the existence of surplus agricultural and industrial products that require a center for commodity exchange. The fact that commodity exchange was conducted by means of the local currency, metallic alloy coins, indicates the economic boom of the region. The prosperity enjoyed by the people can be measured by the fact that the handicraft industries that existed were engaged in the production of gold and silver ornaments used by the female population. This craft has reached the highest level can be witnessed in Magala Harar town even today. The silver ornaments were commonly produced and used them and currently for use by women and are considered as part of the cultural heritage and treasure. Among such ornaments: Waqri, Siyasa, shankhit, rings with pearl, earring, Muriya, can be mentioned. There are a number of Hararis who have inherited the skills require-The history of foreign traded and Resource needThe achievements of the Harari dealt with above would not have been possible with only localized trade. The existence of a natural harbor access to the other world or environment) is considered as a necessary natural resource. In the case of the Hararis, there existed such a harbor on the red sea cast east of Harar (now in Somalia) known as Zeyla, which has enabled the Harari people to trade with other nations and civilizations. Economic growth and progress in civilization is unthinkable without commerce and foreign trade. It is through external trade that people can really satisfy all their needs and exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and means for further development and better living conditions of the people. So the existence of such trade link enabled Hararis not only to exchange their commodities, but also to learn and import the latest techniques, scientific discoveries and technological achievements that the world could offer as far as it was found useful and not harming their cultural values. So it is obvious that, most likely, in this form of foreign trade, they were able to satisfy their needs and develop their agricultural and industrial techniques to develop and use sustainable their natural resources. Such trade links are historically known to have existed with the ancient Egyptian civilization, the commercial center of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and with the Far cast civilization as far as China and India. The growth and development of the Harari region became stagnant and decline as a result of the colonization of the red sea coast by the expansion of colonialist powers in the horn of Africa. This deprived the people to have access to the port and the situation was further aggravated after the invasion of Harar by the feudal lords which led to the decline and degradation of all resources of Harari region. The deliberate act of the then centralist tyrant government to isolate the Harari region from the external world by complete blockage of the region even with nonbearing mutually supporting peoples has contributed to the degradation. It is an accepted principle, that when people lack access to their natural resources the result will be in poverty, stagnation of civilization and degradation of natural resources. So the decline in foreign trade followed by a decline in local trade certainly produced the deterioration in the agriculture and industry of Harar, to the extent of humiliating the workers and peasants. This fact shows how intervention affects the natural way of things and further shows us how far people can meet their needs, independently of their own resources, without external trade and free travel of people. Obviously economic development, to a certain level, brings with it additional needs. The material conditions determine the concioucesness. The higher the level of development the greater the need is (or vise versa). This must considered when such issues like the sustainable use of resources are dealt with all the issues boil down to satisfaction of peoples needs and the improvement of their living conditions. Impact of external (or foreign) intervention on resources The Hararis have enjoyed centuries of prosperity and economic and social progress under their own sovereign government and had attained the highest status in human civilization comparative with other regions of Ethiopia before it fell a century ago, under the yoke of the far backward feudal rule headed by barbarous war lords of Shoa. It was after a series of battle and the defeat of the Harari people at the Chelenko battle field that the region's economic development took a reversal course. The Chelenko war has resulted in the humiliation and genocide of the people and halted the region's economic progress, and the stagnation of its civilization. The part played by the then European powers in supporting the feudal lords was a grave historical error committed against, not only Hararis, but against humanity, civilization and human achievement and the environment. The degradation of the human and natural resources, the distraction and misplacement of the peoples achievements and cultural heritage followed by a massive popular migration, backwardness and poverty that is witnessed today is the result of this intervention under the rule of the gun. Population DYNAMICS and characteristics According to the result of the recent population census (September 1994) the total population of Harari region is indicated to be 131,000 of which the percentage share of female and male is 50%. The residents of Harar town are estimated to be 76,798, while the rural residents number 54,761. There are 30,071 households in the Harari region with an average of 4.3 persons per household. The variables that determine population growth are fertility, mortality and migration. The fertility rate of the Harari region is 2. The growth rate is insignificant. The infant mortality rate is 113 deaths per year per 1000 birth. The census reveals that the rate of in-migration to the Harari regions in the 12 months prior to the census was 1.6 percent, where as the migration in the four years before the census constituted 7.8 percent of the region's population. The census further indicates that about 23% of the total population of the Harari region are migrants. From this census result it is evident that almost all of the migrants have settled in the town of Harar. Hence it is possible to conclude that 23 percent of the Harar town residents are in-migrants. According to this analysis, one can conclude that the in-migrants substantially contribute to the annual growth rate of the population of the Harari region. Thus, the implementation of the population policy in the region should consider the impact of this in-migration on the population dynamics of the Harari people so as to avoid distortion in planning conservatory participation. Population size by Ethnic group : 1877 and 1994
Amiir Nur of HararHarar stands apart from Muslim's and Marehan in history The foundation of Harar goes back to the foundation of the first Muslim sultanate at the central and southern Ethiopia in 896 A.D. In 1521 A.D. Amir Abubakar Muhammad tranferred
http://www.amiirnur.com/
Nourriture et aliments pour oiseaux - Animalis Nourriture et aliments pour oiseaux - Animalis
Commandez votre nourriture pour oiseaux sur Animalis pour profiter du plus grand choix de produits : mélanges de graines, boules de graisse, friandises...
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Abyssinia Tower - Cleveland, OH - Apartment Finder Abyssinia Tower - Cleveland, OH - Apartment Finder
Find apartments for rent at Abyssinia Tower in Cleveland, OH. Get the best value for your money with Apartment Finder.
http://www.apartmentfinder.com/
Jehovah Nissi – ArchFirm
Jehovah Nissi – ArchFirm
http://www.archfirm.com/
Bayern Munich opens Football School in Ethiopia's Addis Ababa Bayern Munich opens Football School in Ethiopia's Addis Ababa
FC Bayern Munich has announced the opening of a new FC Bayern Football School at a media conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
http://www.arunfoot.com/

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